Commissioners recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week

mental healthMental health is an important part of a person’s overall health, county officials stressed this morning while recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Marilyn Cook, executive director of Comcare, which provides mental health services in the community, talked about stereotypes about people with mental illnesses and encouraged the public to arm themselves with information — not misinformation — about mental illnesses. She said two films, “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Soloist” are good primers because they show that people with mental illnesses can have positive lives and make a contribution to society.

She also urged people-first language about mental illnesses. Instead of saying someone is a schizophrenic, for example, Cook would say “a person with schizophrenia.” Using such language helps people not be defined by their mental illness, she explained.

Commissioner Tim Norton stressed that everyone struggles with mental health at times, struggling with feelings of depression or being overwhelmed.

Norton said he sought out the help of a mental health provider when he was going through a divorce and felt unsure of whether he could take care of two children.

Comcare provides a variety of mental health services to Sedgwick County residents.