County encouraging conversations to end the stigma

Local News
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — If you’ve listened to the radio lately, you’ve probably heard a string of new commercials promoting mental health awareness. The point of these ads is to spark up conversations, make people aware of what it might sound like when someone is reaching out for help and hopefully end the stigma.

“Like why doesn’t anybody want to talk about it? It’s like a stigma,” said Maritza, from Lewiston.

People say it seems like it’s changing now.

“They’re being more accepted into society and seeing ways to help that,” said Maritza.

“I think everywhere you go people are fighting different battles in their lives,” said Autumn, a woman from Buffalo. “I feel like everybody is trying to help everybody out nowadays.”

“I think it’s being more commonly discussed,” said Karl Shallowhorn, the Director for Community Advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County and Compeer. “There are a lot of people out there working for this cause where 15-20 years ago you couldn’t say that was the case.”

It’s a topic Shallowhorn understands well as he is living with bipolar disorder.

“I did feel some of the stigma because my life wasn’t balanced.”

He thinks the stigma is slowly going away and credits social media as one of the main reasons because it is allowing people to connect and be open about their struggles.

“When we say stigma, we mean discrimination,” said Shallowhorn. “There is a lot of discrimination against people with mental illness.”

Statistics show one in five people is living with a diagnosable mental illness which can vary from anxiety and depression to bipolar. On average, it takes someone struggling with mental illness to seek treatment.

“I think mental health is just as important as physical health,” said Shallowhorn. “If you have a broken leg, you wouldn’t take 10 years to get help. I always say recovery is not a solo sport.”

And with help, comes support.

“Everyone who lives with a mental health condition really needs the support of the family, friends, anyone who is willing to support them and give them hope.”


If you are looking for resources or more inflammation about mental illness, you can contact the Mental Health Association of Erie County at 716-886-1242 or visit their website here.

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