‘The Sooner You Seek Help, The Better It Will Be’ Mental Health Advocate Says While Sharing Family’s Struggles

DES MOINES, Iowa–Peggy Huppert knows too well the challenges of getting treatment for mental illness but thinks progress is starting to happen. Huppert, the executive director of the Iowa chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), joined other advocates and providers at a discussion Tuesday at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

"My own husband has struggled with major depression his entire life," Huppert shared.

She said the willingness of others to share their own stories has encouraged other Iowans to talk about their own mental illness. Suicide rates, though, are climbing, especially among men.

Bruce Buchanan, President & CEO of Compass Clinical Associates in Urbandale said too many times people don't treat mental health needs as they would a physical injury. He said, "When you're bleeding, you know that you've got to get that fixed regardless of what that's going to cost. But your emotional bleeding is covered up. And if you don't go for your emotional bleeding....it can create physical bleeding."

Steve Johnson, Broadlawns Behavioral Health Administrator, reminded people about the stresses that can trigger mental health illness. "You can have the greatest psychiatrists, the greatest therapists, but if you just found out that you were homeless," he said.

NAMI estimates that one in five Iowans has a mental health illness over the past year but said 60 percent of adults with a mental illness don't get any treatment.

NAMI holds its annual walk September 29th in Johnston. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts the Out of the Darkness walk September 16th in Ankeny.