Local man, fraternity raising awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Michael Mathis says a family member suffered in silence with an issue of depression that he never sought to get treated.

“He was very prominent in his community, he had many kids and a family and just felt like he didn’t have any help and any outlet and so unfortunately his demise was suicide,” Mathis explained.

Volunteers help make home improvements for veteran injured during service

Mathis believes that his family members’ death could have been prevented with outlets to care and resources.

“Even the friends that were aware of the situation that could get him the help that he needed,” said Mathis.

That family member is one of millions of men who feel that needing help for mental health concerns is stigmatized, and the problem is even more pronounced in men in the black community.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health by the year 2021, just 40% of men with a reported mental illness received mental health care services in the past year. Compared with 52% of women with a reported mental illness, even when men seek care, that care often falls short.

Leo III, the University of North Alabama’s lion, has died

For Mental Health Awareness Month, local advocates are behind the goal of encouraging people to take the first steps in seeking assistance and to find what works best.

Stigma still plays a big role in preventing me from reaching out for help.

Mathis, a president with the Omega Psi Fi Fraternity, has vowed to use the passing of his family member and the challenges of others in his community who struggle on how and where to seek mental health services.

“I’ve been in Huntsville for over 40 years, and I didn’t know that there were a lot of organizations that were dedicated just to mental health,” Mathis said. “If I have been here this long, then there are others who probably don’t know. We’ve worked with the city of Huntsville and some other community partners to bring about these organizations just so people can have information.”

Mathis and the Omega Psi Fi fraternity will host a wellness fair that features a Caribbean-themed 5K run May 18 at Big Spring Park in Huntsville. You can find information here.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WHNT.com.