Perhaps it was only a matter of time before mental illness, which affects some 43 million people in a year — more than 18 percent of all Americans — would slowly come out of the shadows, working its way into the culture in plot lines in TV shows, in film and on stage. It reminds some of the early days of the gay-rights movement that began chipping away at the stigma. In Minnesota, the “Want to Talk About It” public service announcement campaign has been aimed at the mental health stigma.

Last November, in a powerful commentary in the New York Times, Washington political scientist Norman Ornstein, a product of St. Louis Park and the University of Minnesota, reminded us of the flip side of mental illness: those who still suffer silently and either refuse or are unable to acknowledge their illness. Ornstein recounted the death last year of his 34-year-old son, Matthew, from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. He had fallen asleep in a tent with a propane lantern. That was the immediate cause, but as Ornstein wrote, “his death was shaped by a lack of judgment driven by a 10-year struggle with mental illness.”