Mental health affects one in five adults in the U.S., according to The National Institute of Mental Health. If these statistics are concerning, know that Northeast Georgia is recognizing this problem by holding candlelight vigils across the area on Oct. 6.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2017, the age group with the highest percentage of people fighting a mental illness are those between the ages of 18 and 25, and the age group of people receiving the most mental health services are those over the age of 50.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved the proposal for Mental Health Awareness Week on Oct. 1, and the week will commence on Oct. 6 with candlelight vigils hosted by Advantage Behavioral Health Systems at 7 p.m. across seven different counties in Northeast Georgia.
While it is recognized both nationally and internationally, Athens has created its own week of awareness to recognize and support those fighting illnesses in Northeast Georgia.
“It’s not a stigma; it’s a mental health issue,” Commissioner Jerry NeSmith said.
In Athens-Clarke County, there are several mental health awareness groups to provide support, including Advantage Behavioral Health and Nuci’s Space. Fight 4 Change is also a group in Athens aimed at fighting mental illnesses. This organization was created for those who may be uninsured and unable to join some of the larger organizations, explained DJ Starr Lowery, founder of Fight 4 Change.
“They often refer to us as struggling with our diagnosis, I prefer to say we are fighting and battling our diagnosis,” Lowery said.
Lesley Cobbs, counseling advocate for Nuci’s Space, also talked about the stigma around mental health and how people should not be embarrassed or afraid to seek help.
She also explained how job and financial security is one of the main factors that contributes to some being afraid to speak out about their condition.
The proclamation on the Athens-Clarke County Mental Health Awareness week states the week is to “increase public understanding of the importance of mental health and to promote identification and treatment of mental health.”
The candlelight vigils will begin at 7 p.m. at the locations marked in the map above.
Caroline Gregor is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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