Why we need more conversations surrounding mental health

CBS News 1 month ago

In an effort to help break down stigmas surrounding mental health, "CBS This Morning" will broadcast a live town hall, "Stop the Stigma: A Conversation About Mental Health," on Wednesday, Oct. 23. We will feature a live studio audience of people affected by mental illness in various ways and hear from medical professionals.

Guests will include "Queer Eye" star and licensed social worker Karamo Brown, who will discuss his experience with depression, and Cynthia Germanotta, who founded Born This Way Foundation with daughter Lady Gaga, about how mental illnesses affect a family.

An estimated 47.6 million adults in the United States experienced mental illness last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). That amounts to one in five adults in the nation.

Dr. Sue Varma, a board certified psychiatrist, told "CBS This Morning" that stigma has a "detrimental" effect on people's ability to get the help they need.

"Stigma is about lack of education, lack of awareness, and sometimes even when people have both, it comes down to a lack of compassion and empathy," she said, adding, "When we have stigma, we are creating shame and we're creating blame. Would we blame somebody for having Type 1 diabetes? No, absolutely not. Would we blame somebody for having the flu? Would we blame someone for having a broken arm? This is no different." 

It is also important to identify the symptoms, she said.

"When we see somebody's behavior, we think that they have the capacity to change. But the reality is, a lot of times people are not even aware of the symptoms that they're having half the time, right? And we need to know what are the symptoms. Somebody says, 'Just snap out of it.' If you had a 103-degree fever and you were suffering from the flu, how effective is it if your family said 'snap out of it?'"

Varma explained symptoms for major depressive disorders, including someone who might share they have difficulty getting motivated or getting out of bed. You might have anxiety or be paralyzed, and you could be gaining weight or have problems concentrating.

Normalizing the conversation around mental health is key.

"If you're going to share with your friend the best restaurant that you've been too, why can't you tell them the best therapist that you've ever been to? Talk about the positive experiences of getting help. Focus on that aspect," Varma said.

Watch "CBS This Morning's" special live town hall, "Stop the Stigma: A Conversation About Mental Health," on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET/PT on CBS.  

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