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TJC committee participates in mental health march

Albany Herald - 5/22/2019

May 22-- May 22--ATLANTA -- The Tuner Job Corps TEAP -- Trainee Employee Assistance Program -- Committee participated in a march at the Capitol in Atlanta in support of Mental Health Awareness and Prevention.

May Mental Health Awareness Month, and the TEAP Committee educates itself on the impact of mental illness.

TEAP Specialist Coordinator and Substance Abuse Counselor Vickie Hill said that bringing awareness to mental illness is all about helping those with illnesses by encouraging them that there is hope for them.

"Getting younger people involve in recognizing mental health issues as an illness gave them the opportunity to see why we are lobbying at (the Capitol), and letting people who make those decisions know that we are serious about (mental health)," Hill said.

Malik McGee, Ladeja Parks and Jamaric Proctor, members of the TEAP Committee, said that they enjoyed their time at the Capitol because it shone a light on people with mental illness.

"It was a great feeling to go out and talk to others about getting through this stigma of mental health illnesses," McGee said. "This is not just something to say 'OK, this is a stigma, we're going to work on it.' No, we wanted to show people at the Capitol that this is something that needs to be handled now."

The students marched from the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta to the Capitol.

Committee memebers said they walked to inform people of the city and state that they are not alone and that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

"I like being a light for other people," Parks said. "It's fun to actually be in support of others and help guide them in the right way, because there is nothing wrong with having a mental illness."

Hill said mental illnesses impact people of all races in communities throughout the state and nation.

"(People) have been so close to the vest, and we have not been open to receive their information," Hill said. "It's not just the black community, it's most communities who don't want to recognize it because it puts a stigma on mental health."

Proctor said that people who are going through the stages of mental illness often don't feel that they need to be examined by a doctor. But, he noted, people suffering from a mental illness will do themselves, their families and their communities a great service by acknowledging the illness so they can get treatment and live as normal a life as possible.

"(Mental illness) is a legit problem that a lot of people don't take as serious as it should be, yet it is affecting the lives of the people that we care about," Proctor said. "We have to begin to explain to people how important mental health is."

Although mental illnesses may not be avoidable, open conversation allows sufferers to break the stigma of their illnesses and may inspire some to seek help.

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(c)2019 The Albany Herald, Ga.

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