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The terms “crazy” and “unstable” have become pejorative terms because of the way society views mental illness, local professionals say, and this stigma is causing many to needlessly suffer.

The effort to destigmatize mental health issues seeks to help more people become more willing to seek the treatment they need.

Kimberly Peters, a behavior analyst and former therapist in Monroe, said people tend to associate mental health with not being productive. Peters said when you see a homeless person, the ultimate assumption is that they may have mental health issues, which is not always the case.

“If somebody had cancer, we wouldn’t stigmatize them,” Peters said. “If somebody had diabetes, we wouldn’t stigmatize them and mental health is another illness. Why is it that something in your brain is seen as something so different to something in your body?”

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Mental health has become stigmatized politically, socially and historically, according to Northeast Delta Human Services Authority Executive Director Monteic A. Sizer.

Dr. Monteic A. Sizer

“For political reasons, there are public policies that were created that favored one group over another group,” Sizer said. “For social reasons, people developed issues via social groupings, be it their family, be it their peers. Historically, there are cultural and structural barriers that again advantages one group over another.”

Sizer said acknowledging that all humans experience emotional distress in life is a way to encourage mental health.

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