Breaking the stigma on mental health help


By Meladi Brewer

DARKE COUNTY — Suicide rates for males are four times higher than that of females according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). For immediate assistance call 988: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

June marks the start of Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, but it should be an open topic all year round.

“Your mental health is not a negative aspect. It is part of your being,” said Jaime LeVeck, business manager and mental health life coach at Women Warriors Ministry, LLC said.

She goes on to say mental health goes as far as having a good laugh in the day or taking time for yourself to unwind at the end of a long work hour. These examples are not negatives, but they do have an impact on someones mental health. In 2022, over three times more men died by suicide than women, and white males accounted for 68.46 percent of suicide deaths that same year according to the NIMH.

“We just need to break the stigma. Let’s talk,” Shannon Denniston a.k.a. Mama D, founder and CEO of Women Warriors said.

LeVeck said that is what makes Women Warriors different, as they are not afraid to say what needs to be said. It takes one person to make a difference in opening the doors to communication, and it takes courage to start.

“We are just out there wherever, whenever, getting it in the open,” LeVeck said.

There were nearly two times as many suicides (48,183) in the United States as there were homicides (26,031) in 2022, and without proper communication, active-listening, and personal growth, unfortunately those numbers will fail to decrease.

“We sort of get a double whammy where we are at in Darke County because statistically rural farmers are 65 percent more likely to attempt suicide than those who live inner city,” Denniston said.

She said the local farmers, if they seek out help, tend to go outside of the community, as they are worried about what those closest to them will say. Not feeling seen or heard within one’s own community can cause mental tension.

“Our community wants to continue to hide mental health, and we just got to break the stigma,” Denniston said.

Women Warriors was founded due to Denniston’s own mental health survival. She believes that if her story can help at least one person, it will cause a chain reaction of positive growth. The groups mission is to “embrace the hurting, end the silence, eliminate the shame and erase the stigmas surrounding mental, spiritual, relational, and emotional issues”.

“Let’s talk. The more you talk about what is going on mentally for you and your story, the easier it is,” Denniston said.

Denniston said just talking about her own story has opened up a level of connection and understanding. When she first started telling her story through Women Warriors almost a year ago, it has gotten easier for her to face her own journey through the hardest time in her life so far.

“In today’s age we’ve lost the form of communication the way it is supposed to be, and I think that is one of the major contributions to mental health,” Denniston said.

The connections people used to have with others are now not as personal and are taking place through a screen and social media. LeVeck said through the generations it has been stereotypically thought men have their roles and women have others, so breaking the generational trauma is also a big factor.

“I think men get stressed differently because they are providers, but I think a lot of men in the older age groups get depressed because they don’t know how to transition from one season of their life to the next,”Denniston said.

This transition can lead to anger, abuse, and depression. Humans are always evolving and learning. In order to help ones own mental health, it is important to be willing to constantly learn and be open to growing as a person.

“I want to change the habit of saying change all the time because it is not really that someone has to change. It makes it sound like there is something wrong with the person. You need to grow,” LeVeck said.

Denniston said it is a restoration of the mind, not a change, but a restoration, and it is important to have in-person interaction with healthy individuals who are open to listening to one’s personal boundaries.

“Find a tribe and make yourself accountable as the person who is talking,” LeVeck said. “You are telling your people, and it can be only one or two, make me accountable.”

LeVeck said the person sharing needs to make rules for what they need, but within the realm of that group there needs to be accountability from both sides. Denniston said “it is ok to say no.”

“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and people are afraid to say no because people are more worried about what others feel and think versus what they feel and think,” Denniston said.

She said it is important to “start checking in with yourself”, and realizing that if you’re not ok with something then it needs to go. LeVeck advised to be clear and concise with your boundary. Boundaries are the limits on what you can handle at that point in your life, and they need to be able to be carried through without backing away. Even though the journey can be hard, Denniston said to just start talking.

Opening up and talking to someone to “get it off your chest” is like a weight off ones back because the thoughts don’t have to be held in anymore. For those who would like to support someone’s mental health, it is important to actively listen without interrupting.

“It is hard as humans to do because we think we have the solution for the person, but their problem is not the same as ours,” LeVeck said. “It may be how you solve something, but it might not be best for them.”

Make eye contact without staring the person down, and make sure to watch both their and your own body language. Having an open body language message will make it easier for someone to approach you with their concerns.

“If you have closed body language, the person can think ‘well they are not listening to me’ or ‘they are board with this’, and make sure electronics are put away if you are the one actively listening because having them out does not show active listening,” LeVeck said.

Women Warriors offers an array of services for both those who are seeking out mental health growth opportunities and those who are wishing to educate themselves through Real Talk sessions with Mama D, Warrior Hour, Life Coaching “Support Groups”, and more to come.

For more information or to reach out, visit Women Warriors on Facebook. To be heard, get more information, or to schedule a RealTalk w/ Mama D event, contact Women Warriors by calling 937-670-0311 or email [email protected].

If you would like to volunteer or donate, please reach out above. Women Warriors are looking to expand both their own education through certifications training, to better assist the community through training and education, and through strong volunteers to have more of an outreach.

“Never Fear Asking Someone ‘How Can I Help’”

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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