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May 19, 2010 7:36 PM by Andy Koen

Confronting mental health issues

It's estimated that as many as one in four Americans has a diagnosable and treatable mental health disorder. However, the social stigmas attached to those disorders often prevent people from seeking treatment.

Kevin Porter of the Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group (PPBHG) says mental health issues go undiagnosed too often as a result.

"We've come a long way in clinically in treating mental illness, but as far as the stereotypes and the social discrimination, we've still got a long way to go," Porter said.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Colorado Springs (DBSA) offers free self-help group sessions, 10 times a week as a public service to encourage mental health and wellness.

Director Karen Fallahi says the community needs to be better educated about the physiological side of mental health issues.

"We're talking about a real physical illness here," Fallahi said. "The brain is an organ of the body, just as we know what the heart does, we know what the lungs do, and the mind is a good bit of what the brain does."

The PPBHG and DBSA are working to elevate community awareness about mental health issues at a pair of events this week.

Spotlight on Stigma: A Night of Hope, Healing and Awareness is a theatrical and visual art event benefiting Pikes Peak Behavioral Health.

It takes place Wednesday, May 19 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at the Corner Stone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Avenue. A $5 donation is requested.

Faces of Recovery is a free community outreach sponsored by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Guest speakers will discuss how creativity helped others to cope with mental illness on Saturday, May 22 from 1:00 - 4:30 p.m. at the East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd.

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