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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: Please Open Up To Someone

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Priscilla du Preez
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Although mental health issues affect 100,000 Wichitans every year, those living with mental health concerns often feel as though they are the only ones. This erroneous perception is reinforced when no one else talks about it. And we end up avoiding other people, lest they discover our secret. But this self-imposed isolation is often the worst possible method of living with our mental health issues. Human beings are social animals with unique and complementary skills and talents. So the strain of attempting to be everything unto ourselves often not only exacerbates existing concerns, but can end up creating new ones as well.

This is one of the reasons that group therapy options are often more effective than individual therapy, especially for certain types of mental health concerns including anxiety and depressive disorders. When we discover that others are dealing with the same issues impacting us, we’re more likely to open up and accept treatment methods that have proven effective for those we’ve met.

Similarly, the lack of such support – especially in older populations who are increasingly striving to age-in-place – is a huge contributor to depression among seniors. In fact, those aged 85 and older still have the highest suicide rate of any age group. If you are not yet willing to open up to everyone about your mental health concerns, please open up to someone.

Links to more information can be found at MHANational.org. KMUW’s mental health series is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Eric Litwiller is the director of development and communications at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.