Augusta, GA (WJBF)- May is Mental Health Awareness month. For centuries there has a been a stigma behind talking about mental illness.

There’s a saying in the South. “Hide your crazy.” Miranda Lambert even has a song about it.

But the idea of hiding depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses can have unhealthy and sometimes dangerous results.

“I ended up starting to have suicidal thoughts. Nothing that I would have acted on, but they were there,” said Jackson Cooper.

Nearly 44 million adults in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness. Being open about mental illness was taboo for a long time and many still refuse to talk about it.

Dr. Michael Rollock, a psychologist from AU Health, said it’s time to normalize talking about mental health.

“This, what we’re talking about right now, and what we’re doing, talking about stigma? And talking about the fact that people, for years and years have held these beliefs about mental illness, this is what stops people. And language, like I am bipolar. I am crazy. This is problematic language. To combat stigma, we need to say things like I have depression. I have anxiety,” Dr. Rollock said.

Geri Walker is battling bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and PTSD among other things.
She said that talking to friends and family and being open about her diagnosis has helped to to cope.

“My husband is a big supporter. He’s got my back. I have a lot of family that’s supporting me. Some family does, Some family doesn’t. They don’t understand which is fine,” said Walker.

Jackson Cooper is a 20 year-old college student. He said fighting his depression and anxiety can be a daily struggle, but talking it out with people he trusts helps.

“One of the things is that people feel so isolated and they don’t want to reach out to anyone. And I’ve been there. I’ve felt that,” explained Cooper. “But the most important thing you can do is realize that you’re not alone.”

Cooper stresses that people who think something is wrong should never try to handle it alone.

“People would rather help you in your time of need. They’d rather be there during the hard times, than be at your funeral.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness and are looking for resources to help get treatment, just click on one of the following links.


Augusta University Health