Cedar Rapids native sharing her mental health story, encourages others to open up

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Cedar Rapids woman is sharing her story about mental health, and she's finding that it's helping other people to open up too.

(Image Courtesy Anne Harris Carter)

Anne Harris Carter was born and raised in Cedar Rapids. “It's important to me to contribute and give back all that I can,” she said.

At work and in the community, she has a lot of titles that join her name.
Eleven years ago, another one was added, concerning her health. “The first time I heard the bi-polar type two diagnosis was in 2008,” Carter said.

Back then, it wasn't a title she wanted anyone to know about. “No place really felt safe for me to say, ‘Hey, I'm dealing with some issues,” Carter recalled. “Not even to talk about depression, I just felt like it wasn't safe.”

Years of keeping the diagnosis a secret became exhausting. “It started to take a toll on me. I realized I needed to speak up,” Carter said. When she did, it was a huge relief.

Carter continues to share her message, in public settings too, that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical.

She’ll be speaking in a community conversation on mental health this week.“We will be highlighting workplace challenges, and stigma that exists in our community,” said National Alliance on Mental Illness-Linn County Executive Director Mona McCalley-Whitters, Ph.D.

Organizers of the NAMI-Linn County Conversation on Mental Illness say there’s a huge need for a discussion.

“We're finding from community assessments and in talking to people that mental health concerns aren't being addressed,” Whitters said. “That’s the number one concern in conversations with local residents.”

They're trying to let people know they're not alone in their mental health journey. “There's always at least one person that will come forward and say, I needed to hear that,” said Carter. “I'm just convinced that every voice makes a difference, and I want to make it possible for others to seek help, or encourage others to get help.”

The panel is Wednesday, October 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Cedar Rapids Public Library Whipple Auditorium at 450 Fifth Avenue SE. Whitters will moderate the event. In addition to Carter, other panelists include Tim Boyle, Dusty Swehla, and Alan Whitters.