Healthcare forum addresses mental health stigma

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Dozens of health officials gather in East Lansing, hoping to lift the stigma surrounding mental health.

Studies show that one in five American adults suffer mental health illness every year, but the number of people who actually seek help for those issues is much lower.

Mental health is just one of the many topics healthcare experts talked about today at a community forum hosted by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, but the discussion surrounding mental illness definitely stood out.

They want to make sure that people are seeking help when needed and to know they are there for those who are suffering.

“Mental health gets overlooked as a major disease process in our communities,” said Kirk Ray, the President and CEO of McLaren Greater Lansing.

As dozens of people gather to try and break the stigma surrounding mental health, Ray says it’s time to start taking the issue seriously.

“There’s always been a continual push the mental health to the back burner approach to healthcare and that it’s not funded well,” said Ray.

“It’s not a personal weakness; it’s an illness,” said Norman Beauchamp, the Dean of MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

Studies show that 43 million Americans suffer from mental health illnesses each year. Beauchamp says it’s important for people who do have illnesses to know they’re not alone.

“What we have to do is help people know that lots of people struggle, one in five people struggle,” said Beauchamp.

As Beauchamp works to normalize mental health, he says asking for help is the first step in finding a solution. 

“The best thing that you can do is when you’re struggling, let people know, seek help, cause help can make a huge difference,” said Beauchamp.

At the forum today, health officials also discussed the opioid epidemic and how to stop this crisis before it’s too late.

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