NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest non-profit, grassroots mental health education, support, and advocacy group has named May as Mental Health Month with the motto “Silent No More.” With this is mind, my next two posts take a look at mental health.
Don’t we all want well-being? If we get the flu or break an arm or need emergency surgery, we are all about good health.
Like physical well-being, mental health exists on a continuum. Truth be told, we all have our crazy moments, melt downs, irrational fears, and acting-out behavior. For most of us, that behavior is temporary and often the result of a confluence of stressors, life events, and maladaptive coping mechanisms.
For others, it can be a life of hell.
Think of the person who sits with a loaded gun in their hand for hours deciding if this is the night, or the person who is haunted by voices that are loud, conflicting, and demanding.
Consider the person so traumatized by abuse and paralyzed by fears that they are unable to walk out their front door. Or there is the individual locked in complicated grief or an abusive relationship or a love/hate pull with heroin or such damaged self-worth that they are unable to break the cycle without some aid and assistance.
William Styron in his book Invisible Darkness, describes depression as “a howling tempest in the brain.” The World Health Organization (WHO) says in the coming years depression will be the number one global health issue.
Why do we relegate people who need mental health to the bottom of the pile and slough it off as there are just crazy, mad, or dysfunctional? This seems a distancing mechanism from the pain and fear of what unhinged looks like. Something got them there, be it genetic predispositions, dueling neurochemicals, biological vulnerabilities, addiction, trauma, tragedy, disaster, and/or abuse.
Society, as a whole, can be so competitive, harsh, and judgmental. There is little room for vulnerability and imperfection.
Our neighbors, friends, everyday folks, disadvantaged folks, those returning from war, those isolated and vulnerable are not well and need our help. They cannot get off the mat without a hand. Where is that hand, the funding, and, most importantly, the compassion for those who need it most?