By The Herald Editorial Board
Slowly, if excruciatingly so, attitudes regarding mental illness appear to be changing for the better, with more recognizing that those contending with mental health struggles are no different than those dealing with physical ailments.
Ten years ago, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of adults in 37 states and the District of Columbia found that 89 percent of those without mental health symptoms agreed that treatment could help persons with mental illness lead normal lives; 78 percent of those with mental health symptoms also agreed that treatment can be effective.
Yet the stigma does remain, felt especially so among those suffering with mental health issues. The same CDC survey found that while 57 percent of adults believe that people are generally caring and sympathetic toward those with mental illness, only 25 percent of adults with mental health symptoms felt others were carrying and sympathetic toward their situation.
It remains a challenge to reduce the stigma for both the patient and in the community, said Tom Sebastian, president and CEO for Compass Health, a nonprofit agency that provides mental health and addiction recovery services in Snohomish, Island, Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties.
“It’s important that they not feel shame and embarrassment,” Sebastian said, because that often can prevent people from getting the care they need.
Compass Health this year marks its 115th year, its 20th under the Compass name. It began as a Lutheran orphanage in Parkland, Washington, moving to Everett in 1922. Over the years its has added mental health and other services, joined with other providers and has…