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a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

What am I talking about?

Stigma. That's the definition I want to highlight today, not the part of the flower.

I find it disgraceful that there is a stigma attached to mental health.

Oh my goodness...what is wrong with us?

Let's break it down. Mental health is controlled by the brain, correct? The brain is our epicenter for EVERYTHING we do, say, react to, feel, and think. If it's not working properly, or is ill, we should fix it, right? That fix could be counseling, medication, surgery, or some other form of rehabilitation.

Ok, admit it....who self-medicates? Take a pill for what ails you? Strap a brace on to prevent injury or to avoid pain? Have that glass of whatever to relax or that cup of joe to perk you up when you're running out of steam? How about that sweet fix in the middle of the afternoon to hold you over till supper?

All of that is "okay" for simple ailments that can be relieved easily.

Deeper therapeutic measures are needed, though, for more chronic diseases and serious conditions. If we break an arm, we can't just take a pill; we need an expert to fix it with a cast, properly aligning the bones so that they grow back together the way they should.

I hope the stigma isn't as bad as it has been in world history. Not that long ago, we held the mentally ill, the lunatics*, in asylums. *Lunatic---Middle English: from Old French lunatique, from late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna ‘moon’ (from the belief that changes of the moon caused intermittent insanity). First responders vouch that this is somewhat true. Emergency calls ramp up on full moon phases. But it's not just affecting the mentally ill.

In this day and age, however, there are so many advancements in medicine, that we can take a pill to control many of the issues with the brain. However, much of society still puts a stigma on those physicians, pharmaceuticals and especially on the patients.

Let's move for mental health towards a better awareness, especially this month, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. Let's commit to reading up on the truth about mental health, become aware of our local resources, and SUPPORT them. It is a health issue that, perhaps because of the stigma attached to it, is difficult to treat.

Bridge Health will be presenting on May 28th at our monthly Chamber Luncheon. This is a move in the right direction to become more aware of the mental health issues and available resources in Chattooga County.


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