Physical health is as important as mental health, but stigmas remain

A recent poll found nearly half of Iowans or those close to them experienced a serious mental health issue at least once in recent years. The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll also showed 57-percent of those surveyed say it’s difficult to access competent mental health treatment. Christie Harris, a wellness education specialist at Gundersen Health, says mental and physical health are both vital to our lives, but they often aren’t perceived of as equals.

While there are improvements and strides being made, Harris says stigmas about mental health still exist, and some people hesitate to talk about it freely.

Courage is needed to take the next step and seek mental health treatment, Harris says, and it’s a tremendous help if those we’re close to are open and supportive.

While it’s normal to be a little nervous if you’ve never had mental health treatment, she says there has to be a leap of faith to try it in order to begin the healing process. Gundersen Health System has clinics in Calmar, Decorah, Fayette, Lansing, Postville and Waukon, and a hospital in West Union.