A mental health advocate recently joined a discussion opened up by The Way Out Recovery Rehab Santa Clarita about combating the stigmas surrounding mental health and substance abuse.
“I think that the biggest issue that we face in the treatment and recovery of substance use and mental health is the stigma behind it,” said Bob Sharits, The Way Out Recovery SCV’s program director and host of the KHTS show “The Way Out Recovery Hour.”
Mental health advocate Tim Harrington was a guest on the show Monday to talk about his experience fighting these stigmas, which includes selling his home and touring the country with his family while raising awareness.
“I want (my kids) to understand that they get to talk about anything they’re going through mentally the same way they would talk about going through something physically,” Harrington said. “So if you have a broken arm, and you have these feelings of anxiety, these are parallel.”
Not a stranger to substance abuse or mental health issues, Harrington has struggled with drug addiction and mental illness, and had 16 friends commit suicide.
“That’s a statistic that no one should have,” Harrington said. “Those should not be data points in any of our lives.”
Sharits and Harrington continued the discussion by bringing up how damaging it can be for someone with substance abuse or mental health issues to feel that they should be ashamed of it.
“Some people never really get to live,” Harrington said. “They never get out from behind the stigma.”
Sharits is encouraging the community to help combat the stigma by reaching out to those in their life.
“Nothing is more important than the person that is sitting in front of you,” Sharits said. “Take the time to have a conversation with anybody that you can, and just see what’s going on in their life.”