LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A rally was held on the steps of the State Capitol Thursday for Mental Health Awareness Month. Patients took the opportunity to share their stories and spoke about the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Now, an advocate for mental health resources, single mother Kim Bohlmann was once on the other side. She said that four years ago, she realized that mental illness was ruining her family.
"In 2009, I was recently separated from my husband and went through just major depression and was hospitalized," she explained. "My son started having severe problems in 2009 through the school, and that's when I first really realized we had a major problem."
It was during this very dark time when Bohlmann said she finally sought treatment for herself and her son.
"Our whole life had to change, the way we do things," she recalled. "The way I parent even had to change."
Bohlmann was able to cope with her depression and anxiety with the help of therapy and medication. She said this allowed her to focus on her children and son's special needs.
"When we moved back to Arkansas his behavior was so violent in school, I was having to do therapeutic holds 3 or 4 times a day for a couple hours at a time to get him calmed down," she described.
Bohlmann's 13-year old daughter said mental illness affects the whole family.
"Through this situation with my brother it has been tough for all of us. Everybody in the family," she said. "I've just tried my best to do whatever I can to help the home situation whether it's washing the dishes or helping mom when she's sad or something."
Bohlmann said the stigma of mental illness haunted her for years, but encourages those suffering to reach out for help.
"Mental health is just like an issue like cancer or Parkinson disease, diabete. You get treatment," she concluded.
Bohlmann's son is now 11, and she said he's doing much better. She also said going to church was what helped her gain a better perspective on her situation.
In 2012, 72,000 Arkansans sought some sort of mental health treatment.