Long Beach residents host stigma-free mental health fair

Long Beach residents host stigma-free mental health fair
Green is the color associated with mental health (source: wlox)

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, about one in five Americans is affected by a mental health condition.

It's a fight that many people do battle alone. The stigma surrounding mental issues keeps those affected from opening up about their problems.

"You shouldn't be embarrassed about it," said Cynthia Shields. 
Shields gathered a small group of people in Long Beach on Saturday to be the support system of those who suffer from mental disorders. The group believes making sure your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being.

"Your brain is an organ like your lungs and your heart and your kidneys," added Shields.

Just like any other organ, the brain needs regular care and attention.

"You should be proud to go get treatment. You should not have to say, 'oh I've been in mental health centers, so I go to a psychiatrist'. You should not do that. You should be able to say, 'hey I'm taking care of this organ'. It's very important," said Shields.

Dustin Marnalich, a psychiatrist had a table set up at the fair. Marnalich firmly believes that mental health care should never be overlooked.

"And if it's something that's prohibiting you from having a better quality of life, it makes sense that you would want to address that."

If anyone is anxious or doesn't know where to start, some simple advice is to not worry so much about stigma or feel like you're going to be viewed differently or in an unpleasant way.

If you don't know what to say to someone battling mental illness, that's ok. Just being there for them is a good place to start.

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.