It is my belief that educating the public is the ONLY way to get society to understand the importance of the epidemic the world is facing with their collective biases and stigmas they place on the subject of MENTAL HEALTH. I belong to a Think Tank, and recently a Mayor in AZ addressed the subject focusing on teens and children. I posted some comments in the tank that I am going to share here. I don’t think enough is said about mental health and am sick and tired of the subject being ignored and shoved under the rug. Ignoring the subject will not make it go away. There are so many hidden costs that society is paying for this very moment. For example, there are prisons full of inmates suffering with mental disorders. Just compare the cost difference in treating these people and incarcerating them. Locking them in jails is the same as trying to ignore the problem, in my opinion.
Here is one of my posts from the Think Tank.
Unfortunately there are only 4 categories of people who are ever interested in any major movement, including mental health. In the category of mental health the interested players are the ones personally suffering, their friends and family who know the individual, the professionals treating or wanting to treat them, and the pharmaceutical community who wants to profit from the treatments. There should be a fifth….communities as a whole. You may ask why. I doubt there is one person in your community who does not know or has not known someone suffering at one time or another with a serious issue. The person suffering may be in the closet and hiding their problem, but I guarantee they have touched you personally. Mental problems have been hidden or denied for decades because of shame or stigmas placed on the subject. Talking about alcohol and drug abuse seems more accepted than mental problems, and yet even though some of those are considered medical problems they are self-induced in many ways, because using alcohol or drugs is a choice and sometimes even legal. I have never heard of a soul choosing to be depressed, suicidal, Bipolar, to have an eating disorder, or any other in the long list of behaviors associated with mental health. Treating active mental problem is necessary, but in many ways it is shutting the barn door after the livestock has escaped. Awareness needs to be two-fold, in my opinion, and trounced on with vigor. Treatment and prevention needs to be aggressively pursued to make a dent in the problem. Parenting and a supportive community and an involved educational system can make a difference if all pull together to take the shame factor out of the equation and strive for an open dialog.
Depression is a flaw in chemistry not character.Myths
1. Depression is all in your mind. (Talking about thinking, not the chemistry, because the chemistry is the problem)
2. People who are depressed need more care & love.
3. Mental illness is a sign of weakness.
4. People with depression cannot lead a normal life.
5. A tragic event is the cause of depression. (Tragic events cause sadness but that is far different from depression.)
These myths alone, plus many more, show the need for education and awareness.
I would love to see tee shirts all across the world that said “TARGET MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS” Then have a big target circle under the words with the words “Education and action” written across the center of the target. Maybe some Health care professions could get this rolling and start a national movement. Who knows. It might help get the message out to the masses and out of the closet.