#IAMSTIGMAFREE

teni

 

Makeup and hair is always fun to talk about, but as we all know there are so many other things in life that make us happy, healthy humans. We go about our lives possibly not affected by certain things simply because they don’t exist in our lives, but I see it as my duty to raise awareness about such things as mental health, with which the majority of us has at least some experience with (self, family, friends, acquaintances) but don’t really speak about.

For reasons I can’t possibly understand, mental health in our society carries a stigma of shame and embarrassment. In the year 2015, after all that we’ve gone through as a people, the stigma is still there! But the more we can take it upon ourselves as individuals to educate ourselves (and others) and talk more openly about it, the better off we’ll be in creating a stigma-free society where people who deal with mental health conditions can thrive. We’re talking about something chemical that happens in our bodies that we just can’t help; no one should feel shame for that or feel like that can’t step up and ask for help.

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A stunning setup at LA’s The District.

I was delighted to attend a luncheon earlier this week hosted by Philosophy (one of my favorite brands), E!’s Morgan Stewart, who is possibly the most charming and funny woman I’ve heard speak, and NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness. I also had the pleasure of bringing one of my dearest friends, Dr. Narineh Hartoonian, an accomplished psychologist and partner at Rowan Center for Behavioral Medicine. She’s always been such an advocate for helping people with mental illness live stigma-free, so I couldn’t think of a better person to bring as my guest. Among other guests, we heard from Katrina Gray of NAMI, who gave us shocking statistics about people who struggle with mental health issues:

  • 1 in 5 Americans are affected by mental illness in a given year.
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with mental health condition received mental health services in the      past year.
  • 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
  • Approx. 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness.
  • Approx. 50% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of high school.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death of our youth – 90% of those who die by suicide had an underlying mental illness.

If you don’t know anything about mental health, these statistics are a great place to start. And you might think you can’t do anything to help people dealing with these types of issues, but what we can do is so simple: First of all, educate yourself; it can affect any one of us or our loved ones. And second, exercise kindness and patience with people you encounter. Katrina said during her speech that the one thing the people she spoke with who were getting treatment had in common was that “someone was nice to them, someone cared,” and that’s why they had the courage to get help. That’s all it takes, my friends! Lets make this an open, honest, and nurturing conversation so that no one feels ashamed to come forward and get the help they need.

Take a moment and visit NAMI.org to learn more about what this grassroots group is doing to help people battling mental conditions.

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DSC04546IMG_2893Natasha Bedingfield; as sweet as she is beautiful and talented.

 

 

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