Working to stop the stigma of mental illness
Mental illness affects millions of people in the United States, but it's a topic that can be challenging to discuss. CBS News is raising awareness to try to stop the stigma.
Cecilia McGough was diagnosed with schizophrenia in college. She said she hid her condition for years because of the stigma, so she started the group "Students With Schizophrenia" to raise awareness. "As a student who hallucinates and struggles with a certain level of paranoia and has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I realized that there wasn't very much support on college campuses," she said.
McGough is among the 60 million adults and adolescents living with a mental health condition in this country. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, some of the most common conditions include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are less common.
Angela Kimball is acting CEO of NAMI. She says, "Only about 4 in 10 adults who experiences a mental health condition gets treatment and that means 6 out of 10 are going without any kind of treatment."
While rates of mental health conditions are fairly steady, rates of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents are rising and suicide rates in nearly all age groups are at the highest levels in 30 years.
"We're not getting people the kind of care that they need in time," Kimball said. "One thing everybody should all be aware of is that treatment works and there is no shame in reaching out for help. We have effective medications, we have great therapies, and we have important peer supports."
McGough's organization has launched more than 60 chapters around the country. "I would want people to realize that we are people first before our diagnosis," she said, "I'm more than my hallucinations. I'm more than the paranoia, and also to get away from this myth that people with schizophrenia are a danger to society." McGough hopes education will stop the stigma around all types of mental illness.
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