Educating The Masses Is The ONLY SOLUTION To Getting Mental Awareness OUT OF THE CLOSET

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.

Here is my second Think Tank post.

I applaud the move for any awareness towards mental health issues, but the time to begin is way before the youth is affected, especially if drugs are involved. I have a loving and caring friend who totally missed the signs when her son began using marijuana at 12. Her son is now in recovery but hooked on methadone, which is legal. I have asked her if she will ask her son to allow me to interview him to hear the story from his side. If that happens I will blog about it, since I think many have not heard a first hand story. I have only heard second-hand ones. The point of telling you this is that this mom was hands on and her son was cunning and a great actor. He did not have a lot of money, so the drugs were probably supplied to him until he was hooked. Then the crimes began to support his habit. Once his mom was aware she found she could do little to stop the slide. She even moved his mattress next to her bed to keep track of him with little success.He is now 21, having been in treatment and incarcerated many times. Even though he is of legal age he still acts much younger because of the effect drugs have had on his brain, and no one knows if it is permanent. Drugs are just one area mental illness gets started. Alcohol is another culprit and cause brain dysfunction.

Bullying, abuse, neglect, and so many more outside experiences in general are contributors, in my opinion, to altering brain function, as the brain is still developing until the age of around 25. A child is born with a clean slate, hopefully, so all he or she is around, hears, sees and experiences is very important, and helps form who they are, and how they see the world. NEVER has parenting been so important. Fake news pounds obscene thin body images as being what to strive for, and eating disorders spring up, easily hidden and overlooked by caring parents.

Social media floods the market with unhealthy ideas and information. Advertisers continually push products that are dangerous to consume. Energy drinks come to mind. My grandkids tell of representatives of these companies flooding college campuses. They  pass out this stuff like mad and free, hoping to get the students hooked on their products. Some kids have died drinking these energy drinks thinking they were harmless.

I know of a lady who thought she was not loved as a child, even though she was. She told me “How can you expect the world to love you when your parents don’t?” She was dyslexic and did not do well in school, so her self-esteem was damaged to boot. Now these kinds of things are understood, but how many problems like these are still in the learning stages?

Mental illness is as broad or maybe broader a problem than the types of cancer in the world. Ignoring any mental issue will not make it disappear but will feed the hungry beast. These problems are cheaper to prevent than to treat, in my opinion. Please step up and be a part of the solution because being quite will put all in the camp of being a part of the problem. Never say “That could never happen to me”.

Recently a girl was found guilty of manslaughter and could receive 20 years for texts she sent her boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, encouraging him to commit suicide, which he did. This was a clear example of bullying in my opinion……………………………………………………………

Here is my third Tank post. This was part of my response to a person who said “Depression is a choice”.

Here is a visual that might help show that brains look very different when depression occurs compared to a normal brain. I don’t see how this difference can be caused by a choice. I also ran across some myths associated with depression I would like to share, plus a powerful statement that made sense to me.

Depression is a flaw in chemistry not character.
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.

About Martha (Marty) Dickson Patterson

Marty: Retired from sales and management near Seattle, Washington.
This entry was posted in Bipolar, depression, education, Emotional Health, emotions, Fear, Mental Illness, Parenting, Problem Solving, Responsibility, Society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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