A Call to Action
A Call to Action
I experienced writers block as I sat down to write this blog, something that is very unusual for me. I have been feeling overwhelmed by all the articles and blogs I have been reading about mental health since the Sandy Hook tragedy. It seems everyone has an opinion on how to handle mental health issues, especially those with no experience in living with it or treating it. We know that research shows that mental illness plays a part in only some incidences of violence and is not the root cause as the media would like to portray. While the fact that there is now some dialogue about mental illness in our society is helpful, more needs to happen. These episodes of horrific violence only serve to further stigmatize a marginalized population. We need to humanize mental illness by demonstrating what everyday life is like for those who battle it: the isolation, unemployment, lack of adequate insurance, the high cost of some psychotropic medications, the stress of making ends meet each month on small disability checks, and the challenge of finding quality care. Our achievements need to be documented also: many of us hold jobs, attend school, raise families, or volunteer and we value our successes more than the average person because of what we have endured.
My solution at this point is advocacy. We have learned as patients and clients that we must be our own strongest advocate to make sure our needs are met. We now need to take our advocacy skills a step further and organize behind mental health foundations and organizations and petition for improved mental health coverage and local access to care, regulation of Big Pharma, and government backing of supported employment programs that allow the mentally ill to return to work and become productive members of society. When these steps happen, stigma will lessen because mental illness will not be viewed as a hideous abnormality. At one time cancer was a shameful illness and look at the progress made in fundraising for a cure, openly discussing symptoms and treatment in society, medical insurance providing sufficient coverage for treatment and preventive screenings, and even being able to work while receiving treatment in some cases. I am optimistic that change regarding mental illness can occur; it just won’t be as quickly as I would like. What do you think?
Have a great month! Maureen