(WIVB) – May is Mental Health Awareness Month. News 4 is working to raise awareness about mental health and help fight the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

We were joined by Tuesday by two experts in the mental health field: Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services and vice chair of the Anti-Stigma Coalition, and Karl Shallowhorn, President of Shallowhorn Consulting, LLC and Chair of the Anti-Stigma Coalition. Their full interview is available in the video player above.

“We know there’s been a rise in mental health concerns amongst U.S. adults in the last year, especially since the pandemic,” Shallowhorn said. “It’s risen from 1 out of 5 to almost 4 out of 10, so almost double the number of people have been reporting these challenges that they may never have had before.”

“There’s a historical stigma in how it’s talked about, how it’s presented,” Pirro said. Even in our movies and music, and just historic views of individuals that have a mental health condition. And so, I think the historical, generational impacts of that stigma are real and are present. But there’s a lot of work that’s going on in our own community here that’s really helping to break that down.

“This past year has really shown this conversation coming forward,” Pirro added. “Making sure everyone knows this community cares. That mental health is health. And I think that message is something we have to take away. And making sure that people know where to reach out to, like an organization like ours at Crisis Services, that you don’t have to struggle alone and that there’s individuals that will walk with you as you go through these experiences.”

To learn more about mental health, how to talk about it and to take the pledge to end stigma, visit letstalkstigma.org

For information on Crisis Services 24-hour services, visit crisisservices.org.