The following blog piece was written by Dr. Bobbi Holt-Ragler. She is a Community Health Advocate (CHA) with the Center for Healthy Communities-Center of Excellence for Health Disparities. She uses her skills as an educator and nurse to raise awareness about health issues that plague her community. Her contributions to the Center and her community are always appreciated.
Recently, we have been saturated with media coverage of acts of assault and vicious acts of violence committed on innocent people. Also, live streaming of suicide has become a common trend. One may draw the conclusion that such actions by some of these individuals committing the crime may have been the result of a mental health issue. While we may not be certain of this fact; however, it raises many questions. Such as, were there any red flags or warning signs that were missed by family members and loved ones? Also, were there any attempts made to obtain professional help; was professional help offered or made available to them? Some of these questions may never be answered and will forever remain a mystery.
As a responsible citizen, we can no longer keep silent to the issues of mental health, but we must take action to raise the awareness of the problem.
Our nation has been in crisis for quite some time regarding mental health. According to the 2017 Mental Health Report, there are over 40 million people that are struggling with a mental health problem; however, only half of these individuals receive the needed treatment. In addition, the number of mental health professionals has decreased, and the number of teen suicide rate has increased.
Why is this so? We can conclude that the stigmas regarding mental illness still exist. Also, less attention has been given to the problem and there is a lack of available resources. Can we continue in silence? The answer is no. If mental health is openly discussed as other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, perhaps more attention will be given to management and treatment of the problem. We advocate the importance of saving lives and the need to know CPR for heart attack, know your numbers for your blood pressure, and how to recognize a stroke with F.A.S.T. So, why can’t we advocate for more education on mental health and encourage more community education on the recognition of signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis? This approach may help to erase the stigma and offer an opportunity to learn more about how to access community resources.
The media has drawn attention to the need for open dialog on mental health. What we are witnessing daily on social media will require each of us to step out of the silence mode and talk more to heighten the awareness of the fact that there is more work to be done with our mental health system.