Eric Bell is using his experience to inform other men that he is okay with asking for help with mental health struggles.
Knoxville, Tennessee – Eric Bell knows that bright spots can be found even in the darkest of times. So he picked up a microphone and started talking about mental health.
Bell and Anthony Palmer started the “Turning on the Light” podcast in 2022. The couple of friends are using their new platform to educate and internalize the subject of mental health.
According to the CDC, men are less likely to seek mental health care than women.
Bell has pledged to start a conversation that many men are struggling to start.
“It’s harder for men because for some reason they think they will see us as weak if we share our story and our struggles and we will not be accepted by society,” Bell said. “Actually, I’d say it’s the other way around.”
The former university athlete had to learn what that meant for him. He ran the track and was always focused on improving, pursuing perfection and ignoring what was going on in his head.
“I was dealing with anxiety and depression in college, and I think if someone looked at that time in my life, they would probably think,‘ There’s no way this guy is struggling, ’” Bell said. “Luckily, I had some people around me saying, ‘Hey, it’s time to get help.'”
It was there that Bell began to guess what was going on in his life and how he could correct it while he was healed.
He found a treatment that worked for him. In the introductory section of Turning on the Light, Bell says he “saw a consultant and took medication.”
It is now clear how different healing can be for everyone.
“The purpose of this was to bring in people from all walks of life so that the audience could echo someone or part of the story, and connect their lives to them and say,‘ You know what? I’ve experienced that. I understand what they are talking about. What did they do to get help, ”Bell said.
The episode that was being recorded at the time of this story featured guest Thom Rasnick, the bishop of St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville.
The guests of the show are not only male, however. Among them are marathon winner Gina Rouse and yoga teacher Emily Hildreth.
According to Ben Harrington of the East Tennessee Mental Health Association, the most important thing is to take that first step.
“Acknowledge that you need help,” Harrington said. “It takes strength to do that, and you’re not alone in that.”
According to the American Psychological Society, women are more likely to be diagnosed with mental illness than men.
The CDC says women are also more likely to seek help.
More than one in four women, or 25.6%, received some mental health treatment in the past year, compared to 14.6% of men, according to CDC findings.
“Somewhere, the message was given to men that mental illness was a sign of weakness,” Harrington said. “That perception is completely false.”
Treatment plans can be different for everyone: be it traditional counseling, medication, yoga, or support groups.
“There are all kinds of options here, and it’s important to find out if standard treatments work,” Harrington said. “If they don’t work, it’s important not to give up and look for other opportunities.”
You can do an anonymous online screening through the East Tennessee Mental Health Association website to determine if you need mental health care.
From there, you can contact MHAET and talk to someone who understands what you are going through. Even though it may be difficult to get therapy appointments, MHAET staff can provide you with connectivity providers so you never get left in the dark.
With more than 40% of Tennessees in need of mental health treatment, Bell will not let her focus on encouraging others to talk about mental health.
“It’s about turning on your light or turning that light on for someone else,” Bell said. “It can be a dark place, and your life can be dark, but it’s light because without light you can’t be dark.”
All you have to do is believe in the bright spots.
You can listen to “Turning the Light” wherever you get podcasts. A new episode is released every week.