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Expert: Stigma surrounding mental health treatment is easing, but there are new challenges

It's Mental Health Awareness Month, highlighting the hidden struggles many people face.

INDIANAPOLIS — It's Mental Health Awareness Month, highlighting the hidden struggles many people face. Advocates hope to eliminate the stigma so fewer people suffer in silence.

Julie Kurrasch is still trying to move forward years after losing her husband to depression.

"Grief is not linear," said Kurrasch. 

It's something she has learned in the past three years, after her husband, Greg, died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. 

"There are days that I think I'm doing fine, and then something will trigger an emotion or a memory and I get hit hard," Kurrasch said.

Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, Kurrasch is sharing her husband's story with others, talking about depression, chronic pain and addiction. Greg battled all three. 

"Somebody can look perfectly fine on the outside and be struggling and really having a hard time on the inside and not feel like they're supported because they don't have a cast on their leg. They don't have a bandage on their head, and it can feel like they should just suck it up and that can be very isolating," said Kurrasch.  

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"Mental health injuries, often you can't see them, so people don't think they're real," said Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor at Community Health Network. "Mental health issues don't discriminate." 

Richardson said he thinks the stigma surrounding mental health is lessening, but there is an ongoing challenge.

"We have a strain on the system right now, and there are so many people really deserving mental health care and it is taking some time to get in to see some folks," Richardson said.

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Richardson said that's why it's important to have support.

"It's analogous to a brake light. Other people see it first before you do," he said.

That's why Julie Kurrasch is thankful for her support system, a system that keeps her going, especially on the tough days. 

"I miss him every day, but I'm really thankful for the community I have around me. I have a community which is not afraid to have people not be OK, which none of us are OK.  It's just our reality of life," she said.

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