Why is the Mental Illness Debate so important?
As an advocate, I am writing this blog on a issue that is prevalent in the news and in our society today. The issue of Mental Illness is extremely important today, because many families and those suffering from Mental Health Problems are shy or afraid to seek help professionally. Many families know that their child or children are suffering from a mental illness, but do not want to speak up due to the stigma that has attached itself to the meaning behind having a mental illness. Moreover, families and friends of those that are mentally ill should not be afraid to urge their loved one to seek help or get them help right away. The most important thing anyone can do for their loved one is BE THEIR SUPPORTER AND GUIDE THEM TO HELP. With any disability, family and friends are an individuals biggest support system. Let's not lose sight on that support system.
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) "...mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life." NAMI gives examples of serious mental illnesses such as. "major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder."
The incidences of Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, Colorado Movie Theater Massacre, Santa Monica Rampage, many other School Shootings, etc., were caused by those that suffered some form of a mental illness. The sad thing is that HELP was nowhere in sight. The issue of "Why did it get this far? or Why didn't his family know and get him help?" OR "If their family knew he was mentally ill why wasn't he on medication?"
My guess, as a Behaviorist, is his family did not know what signs to look for at that moment. Their families most likely thought their behavior was normal given the circumstances of their long hours at school, degree of difficulty with course work, current issues at home, traumatic events in their childhood, etc. Even with that knowledge, any parent or friends will notice pattern changes in an individual. The moment you see pattern changes with your loved ones or friends that is the moment you clue in and start asking questions or seek help for them. The individual is suffering, scared, embarrassed, angry, depressed, etc for how they are feeling. So open up and get them help. We should not wait until SOMETHING HAPPENS TO GET THEM HELP. Imagine if the family of James Holmes, Adam Lanza, etc sought help for them the moment signs and symptoms showed up?
This is why the Debate is so IMPORTANT! Never give up on anyone - no matter what.
This is what Advocacy is all about - to speak for the voiceless, to speak for those that are afraid to seek help, and to urge society to stop giving up hope on those with Mental Health Problems. When we notice a problem or if the problem knowingly goes untreated then you are not only risking the life of your loved one, but the lives of many, as we have seen. Regardless if you are embarrassed or if you think you can help your loved one or yourself, I assure you you are taking on a very hard task. Why? There is a reason Mental Illnesses falls under a Disability with the American with Disabilities Act, because that individual or you are not able to handle your day to day tasks anymore. Your tasks become limited by your impairment either physically or mentally. Therefore, rational thought and/or daily minute tasks becomes impaired. With that notion, your undertaking of curing one's mental illness is not advisable. Please seek help if you or someone you know suffers from a Mental Illness.
According to an article in The Merk Manual: "Mental Illness in Society", they have concluded that "50% experience a mental illness at some point in their lives." Moreover, 20% of individuals who have a mental illness will seek professional help. Only 20% of those 50% of Americans will seek professional help and what happens to the other 30% that are being untreated? They fall under the radar until one individual suffers a mental break and unleashes havoc in society through a violent and deadly outburst.
If you or someone you know is suffering from any mental illness signs or symptoms or think you might be, please seek help. Do not wait until it is too late. You are very important and so is your health. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you want to know the signs and symptoms of what you or your loved one are experiencing and/or if you notice changes in your (their) behavior, please visit this link from the American Psychiatric Association on the "Warning Signs of Mental Illness":
For more information on NAMI and the above mentioned Mental Illnesses, please visit their website at:
For more information on how the ADA defines a disability, please visit this link for more information:
For more information on the Merk Manual Article: "Mental Illness in Society,"please visit their website at: