May is Mental Health Awareness Month and all of us in the media are working to raise awareness about mental health and help fight the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

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WIVB-TV interviewed two experts in the mental health field: Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services and vice chair of the Anti-Stigma Coalition, and Karl Shallowhorn, President of Shallowhorn Consulting, LLC and Chair of the Anti-Stigma Coalition.

“We know there’s been a rise in mental health concerns amongst U.S. adults in the last year, especially since the pandemic,” Shallowhorn said. “It’s risen from 1 out of 5 to almost 4 out of 10, so almost double the number of people have been reporting these challenges that they may never have had before.”

 

“There’s a historical stigma in how it’s talked about, how it’s presented,” Pirro said. Even in our movies and music, and just historic views of individuals that have a mental health condition. And so, I think the historical, generational impacts of that stigma are real and are present. But there’s a lot of work that’s going on in our own community here that’s really helping to break that down. “This past year has really shown this conversation coming forward,” Pirro added. “Making sure everyone knows this community cares. That mental health is health. And I think that message is something we have to take away..."

I also had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Mike Cummings from the Behavioral Health Unit at ECMC for a segment to be aired on the Breeze Sunday May 16th at 6 am and he similarly said...

"During COVID up to 40% of adults have identified themselves, last December, as being severely anxious or depressed, and that's compared to 11% the year before..."

If you are feel unnerved, anxious or depressed and don't know why or how to cope you're probably not alone.

To learn more about mental health, how to talk about it and to take the pledge to end stigma, visit letstalkstigma.org. or the Behavioral Health Unit at ECMC here.

For information on Crisis Services 24-hour services, visit crisisservices.org.

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