May is Mental Health Month, and an important topic. The latest rage on Netflix is 13 Reasons Why. It’s about Hannah Baker, who takes her life after a series of hurtful incidents, brought on by individuals at school. It’s about bullying, hurtful rumors, and ways people hurt one another. It isn’t biographical, but it could be. After all, Hannah’s tragedy is all too common. After one mom watched it with her teen-aged daughter, she said the series should be mandatory for middle and high school kids.

It isn’t always easy to talk about mental health. Too often, there’s a stigma about mental illness. Certainly, not all bullying and hurtful behavior culminate in mental illness or suicide. But often people are more fragile than we realize. And while we talk easily about common diseases and hopeful cures for cancer or diabetes, we shy away from discussing the importance of mental health. Many associate mental illness with weakness, thinking people can miraculously fix themselves by changing their attitudes.

The truth is that mental illnesses is real – even if someone isn’t bleeding. It is also common and treatable, and help is available. We are fortunate to have wonderful care and resources in WNY that are making a difference. And we can certainly all be more aware of how our words and actions affect others.

So enjoy the May issue. There are great and innovative things happening in WNY that we talk about in this issue, lots of fun events, and farmer’s markets to visit. And Happy Mother’s Day to all who are celebrating!