–by Ry Pinski, Roshni Panchal and Steven Barry
PUBLICATION DATE: Jan 23, 2019

The topic of mental health is something that is typically avoided by many. Why? Because there is still a huge stigma behind it. This stigma makes people afraid to talk about their mental health issues and seek treatment for mental illnesses. When asked for opinions on the stigma behind mental health, Sylvania resident Wendy I. said, “We need to break the stigma behind mental illness. It is like a barrier to a person leading a normal life like everyone else. Mental health illness should be treated the same as, for example, asthma. It is not a voluntary illness, but there are ways of treating the illness.”
People do not often think about the fact that mental health illnesses are not voluntary conditions. People do not choose to have a mental illness. Wendy continued, “People should not be afraid or embarrassed about mental health illness. It can be treated and controlled just like asthma. Others wouldn’t ridicule a person for having asthma and asking for treatment. There should be no difference or shame for a person asking for help for the treatment of mental illness.”
In 2015, 9.8 million adults had serious thoughts of suicide, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. When asked her opinion on mental illness, Haley H., a Starbucks shift supervisor said, “Unless you have a mental illness, even if you try your best, you’ll never truly understand how it feels. Know how hard it is to be a passenger in your own body and mind. You can tell us to just relax all you want, but the best way to help is to listen, to pay attention. Watch even the happiest of your loved ones. Mental illness doesn’t have a look and the sooner we remember that, the fewer lives we will lose.”
Mental health should be looked at as an equal opportunity issue. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, and race. However, men tend to seek treatment less often than women because of the stereotypes that men should not show emotions or have feelings.
It can get in the way of thinking, communicating, and functioning. Ending the stigma that society has built can help bring a change for a better future.

Northview Med Tech students Ry Pinski, Roshni Panchal and Steven Barry are all mental health advocates. They chose Community Awareness as their topic for the HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) competition because of the importance of getting the word out.