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“I would rather have cancer than a mental health crisis.”

That’s what Valeria Pernas, a 26-year-old survivor of both, says. When she was 15 years old, Valeria’s father died by suicide. This triggered a yearlong downward spiral resulting in her own mental health crisis that landed her in a hospital emergency department (ED). Once in that ED, Valeria found herself stuck, isolated and without access to the care she so desperately needed. For 14 days, Valeria lived in a room most people wouldn’t want to be in for more than an hour. Windowless, uncomfortable and without healthy stimulation or connection. She was left without options, without mental health care and without an opportunity to get better.


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