“There’s such a stigma around mental health,” Alanah Leger said.
Leger is a medical social worker. She works in the emergency room at a local hospital and often has to do suicide assessments on patients.
When this mom noticed an increase in the number of suicide assessments she was being asked to do on children, she started to wonder.
“What else can I do to help? Because I feel like by the time they get to me, they’re already in crisis,” Leger said.
This led Leger to start a program for suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
“The more we talk about it, the more people don’t have to suffer in silence, the more we can get the community talking about it. That steps to break the cycle,” Leger said.
Each year Leger organizes an event to try to break the stigma surrounding mental health.
“If someone has high blood pressure, there isn’t that much of a stigma about taking medication. If someone has depression, you know, there’s a stigma that you can get over it,” Leger said.
The annual event features speakers who explain warning signs of a person in crisis and how to help. The event ends with a butterfly release to remember friends and family who have lost their battle with depression.
“We want to let people know that it’s okay to take medicine if you’re depressed, if you have anxiety, if you have bipolar disorder. It’s just like if you have high blood pressure or diabetes.”