Mental health issues historically have been a private matter, but organizations have been working to remove the stigma associated with experiencing stress, depression, anxiety and a host of other conditions.

Last week, The Franklin News-Post published a story about the stress farmers have been experiencing as the occupation has become a struggle in today’s economic climate. Farmers experience a grieving process as they lose their farms and experience stress as they work to keep their operations afloat in the industry.

In the same edition of the paper, the Rev. Matthew Ricks’ column reported that, according to a Time article, “roughly 18 percent of the population” suffers from an anxiety disorder while, in addition, depressive disorder affects nearly 7 percent of the population. That means a fourth of the country is struggling with one of two mental health disorders, and those are just the ones reported.

On Page One of today’s edition is a story about a local firefighter who started his own organization in response to the need for mental health care for first-responders.

There shouldn’t be any stigma. According to a press release from Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance: “In just ten years, Mental Health First Aid has become a full-blown movement in the United States – more than one million people are certified Mental Health First Aiders, and that number is growing every day.”

With a fourth of the country experiencing the same issues, no matter what walk of life you are from, mental health should be an open discussion. National Basketball Association star Kevin Love has publicly spoken out about mental health and his struggles with anxiety and depression. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, World Wrestling Entertainment and film star, has opened up about mental health struggles as have a host of other celebrities such as actress Emma Stone, singer Kesha, actress Kristen Bell and may others.

There is an old adage that states, “You are only as sick as your secrets.” When it comes to mental health, it is true, because there is help. There are many groups, doctors and other providers who can help, but the first step is reaching out and admitting you need help.

In the article about help for first responders, Jonathan Smith, founder of Putting a Dent in Mental Health, said first-responders don’t want to appear weak. What is weak about discussing something at least a fourth of Americans are experiencing? We can help each other.

Veterinarians had the highest suicide rate for many years. However, according to the Center for Disease Control, construction workers have experienced the highest rates of suicide in recent years.

Bottom line, it doesn’t matter your occupation or station in life. As trite as it sounds, everyone is going through something.

According to the CDC, from 2000 to 2016, the national suicide rate among people 16 to 64 increased by more than a third, from 12.9 to 17.3 per 100,000.

There is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline designed to provide assistance no matter where you are, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need help, call 1-800-273-8255.

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