More attention to mental health awareness needed, doctor says - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

More attention to mental health awareness needed, doctor says

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – In light of America's recent tragedy, many are saying we need to bring more attention to mental health awareness. 

"We hope that one of the things that comes from this is an open and frank dialogue about mental health," said Dr. Altha Stewart with the Just Care Family Network. 

Dr. Stewart is working to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health, which she believes is one of the biggest problems we face as a country.  

"Families close ranks around the child with mental illness, sometimes," she said. 

Either out of embarrassment, denial or concern about what the association will mean for their child's future, parents too often don't step forward to get help.

"It will be good for the family, it will certainly be good for the child and ultimately if a situation like this does occur it would be good for the community that you get that help," said Dr. Stewart. 

Dr. Stewart is clear. Extreme violence like we saw in Connecticut is rare.  

"But we do want to acknowledge that there are physiological triggers we have to be aware of," she said. 

Often only made worse by the extreme violence children see on their TV's, video games and internet, which is why, Dr. Stewart said she believes we are seeing this level of violence more often. Additionally, she worries the Connecticut attack will only make it harder for parents to seek help.  

"For families already dealing with stigma this will make it worse. They are going to be even more reluctant to talk about their child's problems." 

It is actually rare a person battling mental illness acts out in violence. Dr. Stewart says they are normally the ones bullied or attacked.  

Dr. Stewart says there are several options for seeking treatment. Though, if it's an emergency, she says the emergency room can point you in the right direction.  

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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