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Have you considered how mental illness impacts your life?

Laurenz Kleinheider

When you hear the phrase “mental illness,” what visual image springs to mind?

Is it the homeless man you often see sitting at one of the intersections on your way to work in the morning? The homeless population lives with a number of mental illnesses at a much higher rate than the general population.

Is it one of the people you know who took their own life a few years ago? Is it the urban housewife who is rarely able to join her husband at work functions because of her anxiety disorder? Is it your old high school buddy who just hasn’t been the same since he was discharged from his Army service? Is it your employee whose job performance and attendance has been slipping for a while now, and you’re almost sure you smelled alcohol on their breath the last time you stopped by their cubicle?

These are some of the most common responses when our fellow Wichitans are asked about mental health issues. But there are many more that are unseen. And even if these ideas of mental illness were accurate, have you ever considered how it impacts your life? The productivity losses to your company that result in lower salaries and fewer benefits. The use of your tax dollars to support an over-burdened social safety net. The inability to recruit and hire good employees because society is quick to write-off those living with mental illness.

Mental health touches your life in these – and many more – concrete ways that too many of us choose not to think about. But when you are ready to gain the understanding that will lift all of us, call your local mental health organization to learn more.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.