By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Millions of families struggle with mental health issues.  Doctors say they often feel ashamed or embarrassed.  Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on an event today aimed at fighting the stigma.

Mental illness is something that can be hard to see and even harder for some people to talk about, but doctors say it’s no different than other diseases like diabetes.  Today was dedicated to raising awareness and providing help.

Love Park was showing the love for “I Will Listen” day in Philadelphia, to start a meaningful conversation about mental illness and the stigma linked to it.

“There’s no need to be ashamed,” said Tracey Lavallias, President and CEO of Northern Children’s Services and Chairman of Tabor Northern Community Partners.  He had a difficult childhood, and his dreams of playing football were eventually sidelined by depression.  His grandmother was his salvation.

“She listened to my frustrations.  She listened to my anger, and it was a very, very powerful component,” said Tracey.

Northern Children’s Services was among organizations at today’s fair, providing a variety of mental health services including suicide prevention, mental health screenings even free hugs.

“This has been a silent illness for a long period of time.  There are programs.  There’s services out there,” said Tracey.

About 25 percent of Americans struggle with mental health issues.  Doctors say recognizing the early signs and getting help can prevent or at least minimize some of the more serious case.

“This day is really about saying publically that we will listen,” said Samantha Matlin, a Psychologist and special advisor to Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services.  She says it might sound simple, but listening while sometimes difficult is powerful.

“We think this is a great way for us all to remind ourselves what it means to listen and how much that can help everyone experiencing a behavioral health challenge or just in our own everyday lives,” said Samantha.

There are plenty of services available.  Healthy Minds Philly provides a variety of things including free and anonymous screenings.

For I Will Listen Campaign Information, click here.

For more on Healthy Minds Philly, click here.


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