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  • Amy Payne, CPS, Executive Director


By Amy Payne, Executive Director of The Gathering Place

The other day, I was out to eat, and I heard a table of people discussing high blood pressure. It started when someone said that they had gone to their doctor that day and they were told that they had high blood pressure. Another person said, “I do too, and I take…(medication name)”. Another person at their table said that their dad found out he had it and it was a symptom of heart disease and now he is eating better and exercising.

Did you know that there are little over a billion people that have high blood pressure? Did you know that there are almost a billion that have mental illness in the world?

Why are we not hearing these dinnertime conversations about mental health?

The reason that we don’t often hear these conversations is because many people are not comfortable talking about mental health. It is normal to be concerned and even afraid of things that we are uncertain about. If we take the time to learn about mental health, we will feel more comfortable talking about it. Education is key.

Fact: When you are in a public place, when you are in your church or work or store, look around you. One in three people may have SUFFERED from anxiety, from depression or other mental health conditions. You may have sat next to someone for years and not even know it.

Many people experience mental health conditions but are unaware that that is what they are experiencing. I have heard people say, “Oh, I don’t have a mental health condition, I just have a little anxiety” or, “I’ve been a little down lately.” Some symptoms are normal but at what point do they become suffering and may need treatment?

767 busses. (Average 60 seats per bus). That is the number of busses it would take to hold the 45,979 people that died by suicide in 2020. Up to 90% of those people had DIAGNOSABLE mental health conditions.

Mental health conditions, like high blood pressure, are medical conditions and treatable. People can and do live normal and very productive lives. Many CEO’s, athletes, entertainers, and artists have mental illness. Even Abraham Lincoln did.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Let’s take it upon ourselves to learn accurate facts about mental health. Let’s challenge ourselves to examine our beliefs and educate ourselves with facts.

Let’s have a discussion with someone. You can start a conversation by saying, “Hey, did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?” “Isn’t it stunning at how many people it affects?” “Did you know about the 45,979 people that died last year?” “Isn’t it too bad that more people didn’t feel comfortable getting treatment?” “Did you know that mental health conditions are medical conditions, just as high blood pressure is?”

Mental health conditions are treatable and by talking and showing compassion, we can improve lives and perhaps save lives!

767 busses!

—By Amy Payne, Executive Director, CPS

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