Head of Ohio college opens up about mental illness struggles

CINCINNATI (AP) — The University of Cincinnati’s president has opened up about his past struggles with depression and suicide to address what he says is a stigma about mental illness.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/2430Bz0 ) 53-year-old Santa Ono spoke publicly about his struggles Saturday at a fundraiser in Indian Hill.

Ono told the crowd of about 200 people that he attempted to take his life at age 14, and again in his 20s.

“What I really wanted to do was to address one of the central problems with creating momentum and raising funds to fight mental illness, and that is the issue of stigma,” he told The Enquirer.

He also has been using social media, including his @PrezOno Twitter account, to share his message. Many have thanked him for speaking out.

Ono said he perceives an increase in mental illness over the years at UC, but is impressed that students are facing the problem directly by raising funds and awareness.

“Our students really are an inspiration to me,” Ono said. “I think that the Millennial students are much more empathetic toward each other.

The fundraiser held by 1N5, a nonprofit working to address teenagers’ mental health problems, raised more than $115,000.

Ono said that he would have been “petrified” to tell his story when he was younger, but is now speaking from a “stronger station” in life.

“For the last 25 years, I’ve been symptom-free,” he said. “A big part of the balance in my life is that I have a loving family, and they’re there for me, even though I have stressful life.”


Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

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