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Group Works to Raise Awareness About Mental Illness

The Respect program held at Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in St. Joseph hopes to reduce the stigma of mental illness.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Rafael Frye suffered from clinical depression for several years.

"I had some suicide attempts and that's when I needed to get some help," Frye said, a native of Kansas City.

Frye said like many people with depression he had no reason to feel depressed. He says some people are afraid to seek help.

"I think it's important that people know about the stigma that there is," Frye said.

It's a stigma that Frye said he wants to eliminate. On Wednesday, Frye spoke with patients at the Northwest Missouri Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center.

"It helps people and it also helps me deal with believing in myself and believe I can make a difference and by listening to the other stories that has made a difference for me," he said.

The speech was part of Respect, a program hosted by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

"It's an opportunity for them to demonstrate how they've come in their path of recovery and what is important to them," said Mary Attebury, Chief Operating Officer of NMPRC.

Respect was started in 2008 on the east side of the state. The success of the program reached St. Joseph in 2010.

"We're just continuing to grow this. This is just, I think, for the Department of Mental Health, one of the greatest initiatives that they've ever undertaken," said Attebury.

She said the speeches help others know they are not alone.

"It's one thing for a clinician to come in and say this is what schizophrenia looks like, this is what depression looks like, but it's a completely different, the impact is completely different when it comes from somebody that has experienced it," she said.

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