NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) –– May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to shed light on the struggles faced by those dealing with mental health challenges. Although the awareness campaigns are coming to an end, the challenges persist throughout the year.

One-in-five adult Americans experience a mental illness, but the fear of judgment keeps people from talking about it. That kind of silence can lead to isolation, worsening symptoms, and ultimately prevent someone from getting the help they need.

Director of Education at NAMI New Orleans, Gladys Campbell, explained, “There’s the stigma of them talking about their mental health condition to their family, friends, loved ones, community, where they can be outcasted. Where saying that you have a certain condition, it gets you labeled as crazy.”

Campbell said one way to remove the stigma of mental illness is to shine more light on the topic and create an environment where people feel safe to share their experiences and seek help without fear, she called it the “first-aid for mental health challenges.”

Other than working to remove the stigma of mental health, NAMI New Orleans acts as a resource hub for those dealing with mental illness and their families.

Campbell said it can be difficult for someone dealing with a mental illness to navigate finding the help they need. So to make the process easier, you can connect with their Mental Health Navigation Team. Some of their other resources include their weekly support meetings, family-to-family classes, and family support groups. 

Although change cannot be expected overnight, it begins with fostering an environment of openness and acceptance. “We’re having this conversation, the conversation is going to continue. We just need to get to that state and not just talk about it, we need to make action happen,” Campbell said.

For mental health resources and more information on NAMI New Orleans, visit their website.

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