May Highlights Mental Health Awareness


The deadliest university shooting in U.S. history and a state senator brutally attacked are just two Virginia headlines that high light the need for mental health reform.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe signing the recent mental health bill

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- The deadliest university shooting in U.S. history and a state senator brutally attacked are just two Virginia headlines that highlight the need for mental health reform.

Thursday marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month and raises the question, "what have those tragedies taught us?" While progress has been made, there is still more work to be done.

"She was definitely different from my other grandmother," said Rowan Zeiss, who knows firsthand how mental illness impacts the whole family. "That was my introduction to how to relate to people who have, who see life very differently."

Zeiss is the president of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Last month's seventh anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting provided a somber reminder of the potential cost when mental illness goes untreated. Even though most people with mental illnesses are not violent, the state's new mental health reforms are a product of more scars, both seen and unseen.

These tragedies have taught important lessons.

"We have learned that we don't have enough money into services. So when those kinds of things have happened, the person suffering from those symptoms can get the help that they need. We're making some progress there but we've got a ways to go," said Zeiss.

Zeiss said that starts with awareness, knowing that tragedy is preventable and mental illness is treatable.


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