Twin cities man, Julio Salazar finished his remarkable run across the entire state of Minnesota this past May to raise mental health awareness and help break the stigma of mental illness. Salazar titled this his “Break the Stigma” run and started his 6-day-long, 40-mile-a-day journey on the South Dakota border.
Salazar is a 45-year-old father of two from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is a native of Costa Rica who moved to United States in 1991. He works full-time as a judicial court clerk for the Hennepin County juvenile court system. His two friends, Alex Eichman and Bob Marsh, accompanied him on his run. He has dealt with depression and anxiety for a large part of his life and hopes that his “Break the Stigma” run will help raise awareness for mental health disorders and encourage other to speak openly about mental health. He also has hopes that this event will inspire specifically rural, small towns to be more willing to talk about depression.
Salazar was subject to an upbringing in which mental health issues were kept quiet. He has spoken openly about his family having a history with depression and the stigma this mental health disorder carries. He recalls an incident 20 years ago, just shortly after he had moved to the U.S., when he received a call from his parents, telling him that his uncle had died in a drunk driving accident having driven his car off of a bridge. Oddly enough, his own parents waited two months to tell Salazar the news. Twelve years later, his mother had came to visit him and his family in the U.S. and told Salazar that his uncle had, in fact, taken his own life all those years ago. Salazar came to find out that his father had forbid his family from telling him the truth of the incident.
Salazar recalls having struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts since the age of 14 and says he suffered in silence for years. He picked up running to help with his condition, but found that its help was very limited. The turning point for him was when he finally decided to open up to his doctor about his condition. Through the integrated use of prescribed medication, exercise and therapy, Salazar has noticed that the combined use of all three has made a huge difference.
When Salazar’s family hid the truth of his uncle’s death, it opened his eyes to how alive the stigma of mental illness was in his family circle. His loved ones were ashamed of his uncle’s depression and consequent suicide. Salazar hopes to fight this stigma and help others open up about their struggles and seek help. “It is something we need to talk about,’’ he stated. Those who have depression must open up about their condition if they intend to receive the help that they deserve.
The stigma that surrounds mental health disorders keeps millions from receiving the help that they need and Sovereign Health Group is here to help. We are among the leading mental health treatment centers in the country, offering various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients struggling with mental health disorders, drug addiction and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with a mental health disorder and is in need of mental health treatment, please contact us at 888-530-4614. One of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer