Dear Mr. Steve Fulop,
My name is Ashley Carmenatty and I have a mental illness called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Recently, I've decided to go back to therapy to help me live life with more purpose and hope but found the lack of therapy locations in the Jersey City area to be extremely alarming. I've had G.A.D since I was seven years old, I do not know a life without my mental illness but I have fought for a decade to accept and love who I am as well as fight for myself when people did not want to believe. I'm fortunate enough to have had a powerful and strong mother who taught me to believe in myself when others didn't, which gave me the strength necessary to be so open about living life with a mental illness. It's the year 2017 and there is still so much stigma surrounding mental illnesses. People only see what they are taught and unfortunately for us, we have been conditioned by what we've seen in Hollywood.
With a quick Google search, you could find statistics from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services that states "people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else." So what is perceived in the media, is usually incorrect about those of us who have mental health illnesses. Mr.Mayor, 1 out of 5 American adults have a mental illness. I would like for you to think of five people that are in your life and understand that any one of them could silently be dealing with a mental health condition but are too afraid to speak up.
I understand that my insurance does not directly connect to you and what you are capable of doing but to know that I have to go to New York City to see someone is an ethical problem. It is an ethical problem because not many people in our beautiful city have the capabilities like me to afford coming to the city, taking time off of work if necessary and seeing someone. It's an ethical problem because healthy mental health is a human right and throughout our nation, mental health has been lacking. I know you believe in our city and want to see it prosper, I hope that the prosper you speak of is not only creating buildings that people like me who have lived here all of her life, cannot afford. I hope you speak of the health and happiness of your citizens as well, which includes proper mental health.
As you may or may not already know, May is mental health awareness month and using that as an incentive for us to develop an initiative to raise awareness is imperative. I would like to propose that we create an event to promote healthy mental health in May of 2018 that will not only help the people of Jersey City stay informed with the services that our city provides but it will also help the city incorporate more services needed for mental health where there is lacking.
I hope that you and I, Mr. Mayor can talk more extensively about this future prospect that I am fully indebted in seeing come to fruition. I never truly knew how I could help our community because I felt like I never fully belonged but I know now that I am worthy of being here and I am more determined than ever to be the change that is needed. I hope this open letter will also give hope to others who are afraid and I would like to tell them with an open heart to please speak up, even if their voices shake.