Let’s Talk About It Now

Talk is needed
Why aren’t more people in our community talking about mental illness and addiction in our community? The fact is, these are some of the most prevalent health conditions in our northern Wisconsin communities. These are treatable diseases. Help is available. But most people, including our children, are not getting help.

Mental illness
The silence is deadly. In Wisconsin, 70% of kids with major depression aren’t getting help—and the youth suicide rate is 40% higher than the national rate.

Alcohol and drug addiction
The #3 cause of death in America is the #1 local conversation that still isn’t happening. Statistics show our region is hit harder by our silence:

  • Wisconsin has the 2nd highest rate of binge drinking in the U.S.
  • In Ashland County, one in four people abuse alcohol, and 1 in 3 local kids under age 14 say they’ve used alcohol.
  • Ashland County has the state’s highest rate of opioid-related hospitalization.

The impact—on our lives, schools and economy—is being felt across our community. 70% of all people with an alcohol or drug addiction aren’t getting help, nor are 50% of those with a mental illness. Yet research shows that most people who do get help get better.

Stop the stigma
The biggest reason so many people suffer in silence is due to stigma. Defined as “a mark of disgrace or reproach,” stigma is a negative way of seeing people that can be rooted in fear, misunderstanding and shame. It can take the form of discrimination against people who are suffering from a mental illness or addiction. And it can also be self-perceived: when people with these diseases accept a society’s negative attitude about an illness, they may believe they are less worthy of respect. The effect is far-reaching. It reduces self-esteem, limits opportunities and worst of all, prevents most people from seeking help.

See the person, understand the illness
We all know someone who needs help. Whether you are personally suffering or not, please do not judge a person with an addiction or mental health problem. It’s hard enough dealing with the illness.

When you’re suffering or witnessing a potential problem in a loved one, it can be hard to know exactly what’s wrong, because mental illnesses and addictions are varied, often misunderstood, and affect people in different ways. Yet there are often some common signs of a problem.

End the silence
Whether you or someone you know is dealing with a problem, please know it’s always OK to talk and seek help. It could save a life.

We can all play a part in promoting healing and recovery. It starts with understanding, empathizing and reaching out to one another. Tips for talking

Talk saves lives
Let’s talk about these health problems as treatable illnesses—just like diabetes, heart disease or a broken bone—and give each other the compassionate support that’s needed to get better.

Too few of us are opening up and starting the conversation, whether it’s from fear of disapproval, shame, denial or misunderstanding. There’s so much that can be done to help. These are all barriers we can overcome together.

Talk is brave
Will you be the one to speak up—for a friend, loved one or yourself? If you knew there was a safe source of unconditional support, would you start talking? Would you reach out?