ROUND ROCK, TEXAS - July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month. Formed in 2008, it's meant to help shed light on what still needs to be improved when it comes to access and treatment for minority groups.
And for one Round Rock woman who has battled mental illness for more than a decade, there are ways to manage.
“Growing up, I noticed that I had a lot of anger and I didn't know how to deal with it,” said Liza Park.
For years, she looked to other outlets, including drinking.
“I was losing relationships, there were people that didn't want to be around me because I was just so unpredictable,” she said.
Park knew she had to make a change. At the age of 25, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD.
“And for a lot of people, it's like a death sentence,” she said. “And for me it was a relief -- it was something that I was born with."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported one in five American adults live with mental illness.
The group also said 16.3 percent of Hispanic adults in the United States live with a mental health condition. And from 2008 to 2012, only about 9 percent of Hispanic women actually use mental health services. According to NAMI, When it comes to mental health, NAMI said minority communities face critical issues, including less access to treatment, poorer quality of care and higher levels of stigma. The organization said minority communities are also less likely to receive treatment
As for Liza, she joined NAMI's support groups. She started leading classes as well.
“Finding NAMI helped me find my purpose,” Park said.
“Knowing that no one is judging you, knowing that we're here to help each other, I wanna say it's like magical,” Park said.
Park volunteered for fundraisers and spoke at special events to inspire others about mental health. The 31-year-old, now married, manages through medication and therapy.
“Medication is also something that I have accepted I will have the rest of my life, and I am fine with that,” she said. “If you had any other illness and knew medication could save your life and help you live a longer more productive life, wouldn’t you want that?”
Park is also celebrating new motherhood with her 6-month-old daughter, Olive. She's her pride and joy.
“Even though I went through that really, really hard time, it was for a reason,” Park said. “That reason has become clear. I am here to give hope to others.”
She's been sober over the last four years, implementing healthy eating and exercise.
“My life has changed, but no differently than someone with any other chronic illness. You make changes. You can have a great life -- you don't have to suffer,” the 31-year-old said.
Park feels the only way out of the dark is to talk to your doctor, build strong support systems and educate yourself on mental illness. She also says to never let the stigma of the diagnosis keep you from moving forward.
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