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Mental Health: It Matters - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Mental Health: It Matters

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Mental illness: As a topic, it's often swept under the rug -- yet the reality of how far-reaching it is is shocking. Worldwide, depression affects more people than heart disease, cancer, and AIDS combined, and here in North Dakota we've seen one of the greatest increases in the nation for middle-aged suicides, according to a new federal study.

It's topic that is no longer going to be in the shadows, and that's why Valley News Live is joining with the Stephanie Goetz Foundation, the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, and FirstLink in kicking off Mental Health: It Matters, a year-long campaign to bring awareness and hope to mental illness. Over the next year, we'll be delving into all aspects of mental health in order to equip you with the education and resources you need to have a deeper understanding of this pervasive issue.

We'll begin with a look a what mental illness is and what professionals say you need to know.


In his 20 years in psychiatry and pediatrics, Dr. Read Sulik has made it his life's work to help people struggling with mental illness by removing the barriers of misunderstanding that get in the way of people seeking help. He says mental illness is not a "moral issue" -- i.e., suffering from depression does not mean you're a bad person -- but that our brains, like any other organ, can be adversely affected by physical conditions beyond our control. Treating a severe anxiety disorder "is no different than treating asthma," Dr. Sulik tells us... So, why is it such a pervasive issue?

Sulik: "Most people don't get the care they need.  It doesn't get identified; They don't get access to that care in a reasonable, timely, and meaningful way."

Fargo Public Schools assistant superintendent Nancy Jordheim sees the struggles our youth face daily and says it's paramount that children who are hurting get help at the earliest possible age.

Jordheim: "It's like anything: If I [stop] a cold when it's just a sniffle, I'm not going to be out for 3 or 4 days; if I catch that feeling of sadness before it becomes a feeling of depression, before that depression becomes something more serious than that, before I want to hurt myself or others, I'm way ahead."

Sulik says the right care can get sufferers of any age on the path to recovery, and he's hoping that by increasing public awareness and education, the stigma of mental illness might gradually be erased.


Watch for our Mental Health: It Matters reports over the next twelve months.

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