Building mental health awareness in 2017


SARASOTA – In homes, schools and senior centers, more people were talking about mental health in America in 2017.

The more conversations on mental health care, the more willing people are to get help.

“For a long time we had stigmatized people who said they had a mental disorder,” Dr. Regnier said. “And because we’re talking more about it, people aren’t so afraid of it anymore.”

Dr. Eddy Regnier says people are more willing to talk about addiction after seeing the effects of the opioid crisis.

“That’s created a public interest in what’s up with this increase in overdose in drugs like fentanyl,” Dr. Regnier said.”

And mass shootings have started conversations on how to get help to those who need it.

“The discussion around mass shooting has been do these people suffer from mental disorders,” Dr. Regnier said. “Is it preventable if we have known these people had mental disorders could we have prevented these tragedies?”

Conversations about mental health are now happening earlier, with guns being brought into high schools, and the popularity of shows like 13 reasons why. Schools are now talking directly to students about mental health care options.

“When a child commits suicide for example,” Dr. Regnier said. “Talk to students about what is suicide what is depression. The educating of the youth, will have profound positive effects for us in the future.”

Dr. Regnier says with more seeking help, we now need to look at the inadequacies of our current mental health system.

“There are not enough hospitals,” Dr. Regnier said. “There are not enough treatments. Treatment has become almost exclusively give someone a pill and that’s the treatment. Most people can’t afford good psychologists and good mental health providers.”

Dr. Regnier is hoping that these conversations can lead to positive change in 2018.

“For me as a psychologist,” Dr. Regnier said. “I’m grateful and happy that people are beginning to demand better services and accountability from our elected officials for the needs of the public.”

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at