Letter to the Editor – Mental Health Awareness needs to be destigmatized


Dear Editor:

My name is Adam and I’ve been a part of the Lamar community for about a decade and living here has been great. There are many local events and a lot of caring people here and many that I have grown to love and care about. This community has grown strong over the years and I’ve seen it evolve into a loving bundle of rubber bands that cling onto each other. Although there are differences of political opinions, for the most part, the community stands strong together. However there is a stigma that thrives here and I’ve noticed it and people have turned a blind eye to it. I’m talking about Mental Health Awareness and the horrific results that can come from when mental health is left untreated and ignored by loved ones, friends and yes, even the community as a whole.

As Mental Health Awareness comes to an end, I would like to remind people of what actions can be done when it comes to mental health in your peers. There are plenty of Mental Health services that can be provided locally and some that I have even reached out to. There are countless numbers that you can reach out to and the people on the other line will extend an empathetic hand and help the person that is suffering. Valley Wide Counseling and Support Services is a major part of the community and they have many professionals that can aid anyone that is going through dark times.  However, that is all pretty known here and people know that they can get counseling at any time or dial 988 if the pain is just too great. I’m not here to tell people what they already know; I want to let them know what actions they can take as a friend, colleague or loved one, so that we can help those going through their struggle or pain because sometimes it’s just too hard to reach out or ask for help. People stray away from that because they don’t want to burden others with their pain or they’re too prideful or stubborn to even ask.

We, as loved ones of those going through struggles, need to know some basic things that could help others and I will also go over things that you SHOULDN’T do when aiding someone when they are struggling with mental health issues.

When you feel as if someone is depressed, then go visit them because I assure you, they will love your company and not feel alone. That is a major thing that you can do so that the person feels reassured that they are loved and someone took time out of their day to be with them.  A phone call would be nice but if you feel the person is really depressed then a visit would be more necessary. When talking with a person that is having mental health struggles I have one thing you can say that will help with their situation…nothing. I say nothing because you have to listen. Listening to them is the one thing you should do and nothing else. They want to talk about their struggles and pain and you have to just let them talk and you just have to listen. Don’t try to compare and contrast your own struggles, don’t say you know what they are going through, don’t tell them why they are feeling that way because it would be too hard to describe and it sounds like you don’t understand. Just listening is the best course of action.

Never use phrases like “Man up”, “Get over it” or “Just be happy”. Those phrases are just fuel for more pain and more struggles. You’re just making it worse.  Please don’t use this under any circumstance.

All I ask from this community is to reach out to your friends, family, and peers and tell them they are loved and if they are struggling with mental health problems; go to them and be a friend. Listen to them and accompany them because they think their only company is pain itself. If you just listen to them…maybe, just maybe, you can save a life.

If you are reading this and are going through mental health struggles then reach out to anyone and I assure you that you are not alone. Remember that YOU MATTER.


Adam Rivas, Mental Health Advocate

Filed Under: Letters to the Editor

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