Mental illness has been long held in a negative light. Seen generally by society as something to fear more than understand. Believed to be a root cause of homelessness, crime, suicide, the stigma surrounding mental health leads many to resist getting the help they need as they do not want to be labeled as crazy. 

In hopes of changing this prescription, May has been named Mental Health Awareness Month, allowing organizations like the Mental Health Hook-Up to hold events like last Saturday’s Stop The Stigma event at Henry Mayo Hospital.

Event worker Larry Schallert believes the problem needs to be tackled head-on.

“What we are trying to do is address the issue of stigma in mental health. So often, the reason why people don’t access mental health or feel bad about accessing mental health or being in counseling. So we want to say, ‘hey, it’s okay to not be okay.'”

And in letting people know it’s okay not to be okay, the event had speakers discussing a wide range of mental health topics. 

Many vendors were on hand to provide information about mental health services available to the public.

Schallert was particularly enthused by a local school’s efforts in prioritizing mental health for a high risk group.

“College of the Canyons offers free counseling for anybody that’s enrolled in any class.”

 Law enforcement was also in attendance to show how they respond to those having a mental health crisis. 

Ken Cianciosi of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department talked about the importance of helping those in their greatest times of need.

“We respond to people in crisis trying to harm themselves or others, and our response is the need for assistance with mental health.”

Henry Mayo and Mental Health Hook-Up continue to put their best foot forward in the fight to remove the image of shame and humiliation that comes with having a mental health concerns. 

They hope their efforts will allow for more people feeling comfortable enough to reach out and get the help they need. 

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