Advocates unite to raise awareness on World Mental Health Day

Advocates hope to diminish the stigma behind mental health illness and raise awareness on World Mental Health Day.

On Tuesday, dozens of people took to the Bexar County Courthouse steps to show their support for World Mental Health Day and raise awareness by sharing their stories.

Michelle Mata, who attended the event, says that she's struggled with mental illness for more than 20 years, and about 10 years ago, after seeing several psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with complex major depression with psychotic features. It means that she battles depression every day.

She said that after dealing with mental illness for so many years, it becomes easy to hide, but the battle is agonizing.

“I was smiling and having a good time talking with people, but inside, I feel sad and empty," Mata described. "It feels dark."

Depression affects more than 16 million adults who are 18 years and older and 3 million adolescents between 12 and 17 years old.

Mata added that there are many misconceptions about mental illnesses.

"That I'm lazy, that I can snap out of it, that it's my fault, that maybe if I pray hard enough that it will go away," Mata explained.

“In Bexar County alone, it's estimated that we have about 360,000 folks suffering from major mental illness," said Gilbert Gonzales, the director for the Bexar County Mental Health Department.

A few warning signs of depression in adults include sleeping too much or too little, feeling hopeless, or having suicidal thoughts.

Gonzales says that the hardest part for people struggling with mental health is reaching out and asking for help.

If you think you’re suffering from depression, you can reach out to several organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness in San Antonio, S.A. Clubhouse, or the Crises Hotline available 24 hours at 210-225-5481.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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