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Increasing awareness of mental health resources
FREE LANCE STAR - LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Date published: 8/20/2014

Increasing awareness of mental health resources

We are saddened by the tragic and untimely death of Robin Williams. Unfortunately, every day more than 100 Americans die as a result of suicide as people facing mental health challenges struggle in silence rather than seeking treatment that is proved effective.

Mental illnesses are serious chronic diseases just like diabetes and heart conditions that impact our daily health and well-being.

As open and honest as Robin Williams was about his depression and addictions, we are reminded that those with severe depression oftentimes feel that they are alone. As shared by a friend, "Those of us who suffer from severe depression are truly Academy Award-winning actors! Some of us have statuettes and some of us don't. We know how to mask our illness so most people don't or won't see it. Robin Williams reached the moment where the pain of living one more minute was just too great. The black demon ultimately got him because we are such great actors at hiding how desperate we truly feel."

Let us remember the man who made us laugh and sometimes cry with increased media attention and education to reduce stigma that oftentimes is the barrier that prevents people from seeking help. Let his tragic passing inspire us to be conscious of our well-being every day of our lives and believe that no matter how difficult our challenges may be, there is hope and we are not alone.

Robin Williams' life reminds us that we must open our minds and wallets to fund prevention programs and treatment services that save lives. In fact, Mental Health America of Fredericksburg began a new program this year, providing suicide prevention education in local high schools. This is a first step in increasing awareness of what depression looks like in teens and giving them skills and confidence to seek help when needed for themselves or their friends.

We welcome your support of our work as volunteers and donors as we strive to change minds, and change lives.

Mental Health America of Fredericksburg is the community's oldest community-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Founded in 1955, we touch the lives of people in our community--advocating for changes in mental health policy; educating the public; providing information and referrals to mental health support and treatment services; and delivering mental health and wellness programs and services.

Lynn DelaMer is executive director of Mental Health America of Fredericksburg