September 23, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mental illness has been in the news again with the killings in Washington by a man who many sources say was mentally ill.  Most of those who suffer are not violent, but they are often isolated. A big event will be held in Kansas City Saturday as part of the President’s call for a national conversation on mental health.

Charmaine Kimble sits with co-workers at Truman Behavioral Health, the very agency that helped Charmaine beginning at age 12 as she struggled with depression.  She says she even tried to take her own life.

“I used to always isolate myself, very stand-offish,” said Kimble.

Not now.  At age 24, Charmaine is a peer specialist for Truman, providing support for teens and young adults who have mental illness.

The head of Crittenton Children’s Center says that support from someone who’s been there is vital, but all of us can help in our families, schools, churches and workplaces.

“We can, just as we’ve put AEDs out, for example, and trained people how to use them for heart disease, we can do the same and create compassionate and resilient communities,” said Janine Hron.

Hron says we can create communities that understand mental illness and are there for one another.  Hundreds will share ideas Saturday at “Creating Community Solutions KC.” Kansas City is one of ten cities selected to have large events as part of the President’s national dialogue on mental health. It started after the Sandy Hook mass killings. That and other tragedies such as the one in Washington this week are linked to mental illness.

“It’s that isolated disconnection that is the greatest concern for individuals,” said Hron.

Kimble knows more people like her and her colleagues are need to just listen, and to let others know their illness doesn’t define them.

“We all go through things in life, but you’re still somebody regardless of what the situation may be,” said Kimble.

She’s helping others live with mental illness.

Read more about Saturday’s event on mental health.