Mental Health Awareness: What Will It Take?

logo-medSome of the recent incidents that have occurred have pushed people to discuss Mental Health. It is sad that 26 lives had to be taken in order for the discussion to even begin. Last week, innocent students and teachers. A few weeks ago, a baby was left without a mother or father as a result of a murder suicide. But we have to move past the discussions and get to the action. Mental Health is becoming a more challenging topic to discuss because so many do not understand it or the impact on the individual that suffers from it.  The media has thrown the term around when its convenient to minimize the heinous acts being committed.  As a result, we have become insensitive to those who suffer from mental illnesses and even continue to ignore the signs when it is at our own front door.

Mental Health is nothing foreign to me. I was surrounded by it from birth up until now. As a child, my parents cared for adult mental health and developmentally disabled clients. I even went on to attend college and major in Clinical Psychology. I volunteered in special education classrooms, adult mental health facilities and even went on to work with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents. Working in that environment and with these various populations, it made me sensitive to the needs of others. It wasn’t until recently that I even discovered that my mother suffers from bipolar disorder. When I look back over some of my childhood experiences, I can put the pieces together but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept or deal with. Now as an adult and mother, I face the challenge of working through mental health issues with my own son.

When he was younger, I thought he was just your average spoiled child. When he didn’t get his way, he would fall out. I would ignore it and not give in to whatever he wanted. But as time went on, I realized that at 6 and 7 falling out was not age appropriate behavior any longer. Did I want to seek help? Yes, but for some reason it seems easier to try to cope and deal with it on your own than to seek help. But in all honestly, it is even more difficult to deal with it alone. Seeking mental health assistance for a family member is just as difficult as having the formal discussions. We first blame ourselves. Could I as a parent have done something different? I should have known something was wrong. These are the questions and thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis.

As individuals, we experience so much in our day to day lives. The stress of supporting ourselves and a family, paying bills, school, unemployment, relationships, job layoffs, the loss of loved ones and more. All of these events have an effect on one’s mental health.  It is important that we find healthy ways to cope and reach out to others in times of need.  We can get so stuck in our daily routines that we forget to take out the time to make sure we are okay, not just physically but mentally.  Certain mental health issues can show up during any point of life. For example, someone suffering from a nervous breakdown. They are not born that way but they experience something during life that makes it difficult to cope or transition.

I must be honest, it is a difficult field to work in. At one point while in college, I began to feel powerless. I felt like I was only there to help maintain life as it was for those that I served. I would provide medications and make sure they were doing okay but that was it.  Overtime some even become insensitive and remove the humanity from the people they serve.  I have also witnessed the numerous cutbacks associated to providing care to those who suffer from mental illness.  While my experience could have turned me away, they actually pushed me then and now to want to do more.

Guns do not kill people, people kill people with guns.  For the past two year, it has been my desire to host an event in the Las Vegas, NV area during the month of May.  A month ago, I was asked to partner with another organization.  We decided that we would hold a health fair.   May just so happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month.  So May 18, 2013, Mother 2 Mother and Touching Heart will partner for the Inaugural Community and Family Health Fair.  Mental Health is just as important as physical health and we must do our best to maintain both.   More details will soon follow and look forward to Mental Health Mondays which will be a feature on Touching Heart and Wellness Wednesdays here and on Mother 2 Mother.  If you would be interested in being a guest blogger for Mental Health Mondays or Wellness Wednesdays please leave a comment.

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Sunday Mourning

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