Mental health professionals look to make policy changes

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"We need to remove the stigma associated with mental health conditions, related care options, and help our patients understand that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness". Mental illness does not discriminate by age, race, religion or socio-economic status.

African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. "There are certain mental illnesses that are more acceptable, and a lot of that has to do with how often they're diagnosed and with how well they're treated", he said. Illnesses can disturb regular daily functions and the ability to communicate with others. Research has suggested that many factors, including genetics, environment and lifestyle, can influence a mental health condition. With the hope of becoming as common as CPR and First Aid training, Mental Health First Aid has successfully trained over 1 million people with more to come in the future. The presentations will include anxiety, depression, autism, PTSD, Bipolar, and Co-Occurring disorders. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, psychosis and personality disorders also fall under the category of mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition and 1 in 5 USA adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

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"It is critical that people with mental illness get the care they need", says Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper. "So, don't hesitate. If you are not feeling like yourself and suspect that you might be dealing with a mental health issue, get scheduled to meet with a professional to have this evaluated". There are several avenues to help those who are living with these psychological health concerns and conditions, from talking to primary care managers to visiting the local chaplain or Fleet and Family Support Centers.

A major warning sign of a mental health condition is suicidal thoughts or actions. Each year, more than 34,000 people in the United States commit suicide, and 90 percent of those who take their own lives struggle with a mental illness. Yet, people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently, and some engage in potentially unsafe or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem. Treatment can require medication, psychotherapy, recovery and support groups.

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