Mindy McCready was a talent to be reckoned with when she arrived in Nashville at age 18. She had graduated high school early, at age 16, she was talented and determined. What happened from there was anything but a happy ending.

Mindy struggled with mental illness, reportedly a personality disorder and abuse issues, and drug/alcohol addiction. Her brief taste of stardom certainly didn't help. In 1996, her debut album "Ten Thousand Angels" was the hottest thing going, But in 1999, she was dropped from her record label for poor sales. In 2002, her new label dropped her for the same reasons after one album release.

On Sunday, after years of dealing with her demons, McCready took her own life. Terri Clark was one of several Country stars to react on Twitter and put it beautifully:

I hope our society shows compassion and realizes the severity and reality of mental illness, and addiction. #mindymccready

Mindy McCready was released from an inpatient center, 11 days before her death, after having a mental health and addiction evaluation. They deemed her fit to participate in outpatient sessions.

I have dealt with mental health issues and I have friends and family members who have as well. It is not easy and requires courage. Sadly, it requires money more often than not. I am an emotional girl (thank you Terri Clark!) and started therapy after the loss of my Mother. Some of the most important people in my life passed before and shortly after my Mom. It was hard to deal with, so I reached out.

One in four families has a member with mental health issues. One in four! that means we know someone that needs help. So, it's time lend a hand and time to get rid of the stigma.
"Hi, I'm Karen Walker and I have suffered from a mental health issue."

Be honest and deal with the problem head on. And I mean don't leave anything out when dealing with it. Keep no secrets. Life throws us so many obstacles that not one of us has gotten through without a scratch. It hurts and sometimes it takes treatment to heal. Don't be embarrassed; just get yourself the help you need and deserve.

I can't stress enough how important it is to deal with any mental health issue quickly. They tend to spiral out of control without care. Mindy McCready is a good example. I bet you can think of one in your own life. Don't let fear of the stigma stop you from living your life fully.

Think of it as mental health first aid. And here is your first aid kit:

1. For a mental health emergency (you could be a danger to yourself or others or have extreme panic) call 911, the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier's hotline 800-273-TALK or UHS's crisis line 762-2302.

2. If you are managing and don't have an emergency, contact the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier here. This is a non-profit group that has a vast amount of resources to help you.

3. The Broome County Mental Health Department also has resources for you. Click here.

4. If your employer offers an EAP service, use it. It offers short term counseling and services to help any personal issue from childcare to finances as well.

5. Reach out to a private mental health professional. It can be costly without insurance, but most insurance plans do cover this.

6. Don't be afraid of inpatient treatment. Sometimes you need a break. If you opt to do this, remember you have control over your care. Not comfortable with medications? Tell them upon check in. I took a "weekend break" as an inpatient and it helped. I came out thinking "there but for the Grace of God go I."

7. Talk to friends and family that you trust. It's ok. Those that love you will support you. You are saving yourself and they know it. Please talk.

Above all else, remember that under treatment you will be on a path to happiness. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.