Push to break stigma surrounding men’s mental health

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 3:20 PM CDT
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LAREDO, TX. (KGNS) - Just last month, the nation observed Men’s Health Awareness Month, a time to shed light on all aspects of a man’s well-begin and with more focus recently placed on mental health, experts are opening up about some of the challenges some face in our community when it comes to their mental health.

According to a health report, more than 42 million Americans experience a mental health illness each year, but when it comes to men, only one out of ten are likely to seek treatment.

John Pomar, a former Laredoan beleives there is a mental health issue in the world because mental health is still a taboo subject for a lot of people.

According to America’s Health Ranking in 2020, 17.7% of adults in Texas were told by a health professional that they have a depressive disorder, one of those individuals is John Pomar.

When John was in his late teens and early 20s he had a lot of depressive thoughts and was even contemplating suicide at a few points in his life.

After enduring a lot of mental health trauma, John decided to reach out to Border Region Behavioral Center and was diagnosed with bipolar, (BPD).

John is a former Laredoan who now spends his days performing music in Austin, but before he stepped into the spotlight, he experienced a series of dark days.

John says, “I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed some days it was hard to honestly just keep moving to keep moving forward and try to push those positive thoughts in my mind everything felt like a waste of time.

While John is one individual who was able to learn how to channel his condition in a positive manner, health experts say there’s a large amount of people, specifically men who do not seek treatment.

Jacqueline Lopez is the Director of the children’s unit at Border Region Behavioral Health Center; it’s one of four local centers that provide counseling and therapy services for those who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorders or any other mental health conditions that require treatment.

Lopez also beleives that stigma is still attached to mental health, especially when it comes to men because it shows a sign of vulnerability or weakness.

While Border Region sees an average of roughly 4500 people a year, Lopez believes the need for assistance continues to increase in our community and that people should seek help before it escalates into a crisis.

Lopez says, “It’s very important to come forward the only thing that happens is that things get bottled up inside and they escalate, and they escalate to the point where the person could eventually explode, this is when tragedies could happen.”

Both Lopez and John believe when it comes to the topic of mental health, more people need to seek help instead of suffer in silence.

Lopez encourages men, women and children if they believe they are experiencing depression or anxiety to reach out to Border Region or local physician.

John says, “People need to speak up, I know it’s scary me trying to come out and say hey I’m having these issues it’s hard to speak on it was for me personally but if you can speak on it, I think it need to be talked about more.”

Now Border Region is just one of four local health centers who assist with mental health services, they also service four counties in our region.

For more information on the services they provide you can call (956) 794-3000, they also have a crisis line at 1-800-643-1102.

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