This post is kind of a brain dump. It’s also more serious than pretty much everything else I post.
I’m happy that physical health is becoming such a priority in this country, what with all the federal and state initiatives that have been created. That is fantastic. We should focus on our physical health.
However, I only wish we made mental health as much of a priority.
There are a few people in my life who are very close to me and who I love dearly who battle with mental illness, and many friends who also have loved ones who battle their own mental health demons. While I myself have never been diagnosed with a mental health issue, I have gone to therapy when I needed it to work out some issues.
But we can’t deny that mental illness is a huge issue in our country. So much of what you see on the news is probably the result of someone with an undiagnosed and/or untreated mental illness. Most of the homeless who live on the streets of Chicago, the suburbs and other cities, have untreated mental illnesses. People who struggle with drug addiction. People who abuse other people or animals. Pedophiles. Etc. So much of what is “crazy” and “wrong” with our world can probably be traced back to an untreated mental illness.
Will our country ever take action like they have when it comes to physical health? Will people lobby their government for better mental health protections written into law or policy? Will we encourage everyone to take control of their mental health like we have with physical health? Will we encourage everyone get mental health screenings at the same rate we get physical ones? And make them affordable and accessible?
I don’t know. So many people just want to pretend mental illness doesn’t exist, that it’s no big deal. Sweep it under the rug, look the other way. Just suck it up.
But everyday, you turn on the news. Another crazy story.
Every time you walk through downtown Chicago. Another “crazy” homeless person.
Another celebrity suicide. Another drug addiction, or overdose. Just look at all the celebrities who instead of evoking our sympathy, and the encouragement of their loved ones to seek help, we just splash across magazine covers, and on tabloid TV shows. Their mental illness is a spectacle for our amusement.
Not to mention all of the people who suffer in silence. Who don’t outwardly show signs of mental illness, but are living a hell inside their own heads.
I really don’t have any answers, and I really don’t know what the point of this post is. I just wish we didn’t feel like we have to hide mental illness. I wish we could be open about it, like we are open with a diagnosis of cancer. Having a mental illness isn’t a weakness, any more than having diabetes or heart disease or cancer is. We celebrate people who survive those diseases. Why don’t we celebrate people who openly fight against their mental illness, and overcome it? And support those who struggle in their fight? And encourage everyone to get screened?
I have no answers, not even hope that someday our attitudes will change. I just have sadness.