There’s a misconception that mental illness may be connected, in some cases, to violence. The truth is that not even one percent of individuals affected by mental illness commit violent acts of harm, according to research. The stigma that’s perpetuated, often by the media, makes it even more difficult for those with serious mental health conditions to reach out and get the help they need.

Nobody wants to be labeled by the outside world, especially when it pertains to having an illness or problem that simply means ongoing symptom management is needed. Having a mental illness is really no different than being affected by any other health condition. Mental health is simply one component of overall health, and just as no one asks for diabetes or a heart condition, people don’t choose mental illness. Most individuals living with mental illness are productive members of society – and they are someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, friend, child or spouse.Family 2

Mental illness can affect anyone, and in fact, reports show that as many as 25 percent of Americans do have a mental health condition. Sadly, a large portion of this group – up to 60 percent –don’t seek professional help, but instead turn inward and cope with symptoms the best way they know how, often with drugs or alcohol. Feeling hopeless or rejected from the outside world, at times, suicide may seem like the only option.

Moving forward, if we want to make a positive change when it comes to mental illness, we can all do more to understand the symptoms of mental illness and acknowledge its presence in a proactive and productive way. Attitudes in Reverse, AIR, is one program that seeks to educate America’s youth regarding the truth about mental illness and the bravery in reaching out for assistance.

Family Guidance Center is another source of support for adults, youth, and their families who are affected by mental illness. For years, Family Guidance has been working to stamp out stigma that stands in the way of treatment. To learn more about available programs, contact Family Guidance Center.