Overcoming the stigma of mental illness, one mile at a time

There are more than 200 types of mental health conditions

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Conerlius Sewell was just 14-years-old when he swallowed a bottle of pills, in an attempt to end his own life.

“I took a whole bottle of tranquilizers. Somebody was able to bring me to the hospital and they revived me,” he said.

Cornelius was eventually diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, illnesses that he says years later, he can now speak openly about. “There are a lot of people that suffer from mental illness like me, and I feel like I don’t have to be alone,” he said.

Nearly one in five people in the United States are living with some type of mental illness. On Saturday, River Valley Counseling held their annual 5K River Valley Run to raise money for mental illness services right here in western Massachusetts.

There are more than 200 types of mental health conditions, and they’re not always easy to recognize or diagnosis.

Lisa Beauregard told 22News it took nearly a decade for her daughter to receive the correct diagnosis. “They said she had some severe learning disability, but not Selective Mutism,” she said.

Doctors told Lisa her daughter had some type of learning disability. It wasn’t until she got her retested nearly 10-years later that they discovered, she was really suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, called Selective Mutism. “With this disability, it’s not as known as autism, so there’s not a lot of services,” she said.

Families like Lisa’s now dedicate their time to making sure other people suffering from mental illness aren’t ashamed, and aren’t afraid to reach out for help.

Claudia Mitchell, a participant in Saturday’s run told 22News, so many families came together for the event to raise awareness, and erase the stigma that surrounds mental illness. “It’s not something you need to be ashamed or embarrassed about, because mostly everyone you know in the workplace, or your friends or your family, somebody has it,” she said.

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