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Mental illness must be seen in new light

Sun Advocate - 6/12/2018

I want to preface this with a disclaimer. I know painfully little about psychology or mental health.

It's not my field and in all my collegiate experience I have about 3 undergraduate credits to my name regarding it, so let me go ahead and say that these are only the thoughts of a layperson affected by the consequences of our society's inaction, as I feel most of us are.

As a father I am constantly on patrol for possible pathogen sources my kids are insistently attempting to put into their mouths, handrails to lick, cool looking rocks in the parking lot, or any number of toys at friend's houses that are just demanding to be orally inspected by their young tastebuds.

Now, when one of my kids invariably contracts such a pathogen as you would expect to find in/on such a place/thing the results are quickly forthcoming and obvious.

The "germs" ravage their little bodies and cause side-effects that are readily visible and identifiable and most importantly, recognizable to society as a whole.

So why are the symptoms of mental disease not just as readily accepted by us?

When a homeless person stands on a street corner screaming at traffic why do we drive by, ignoring or even mocking the behavior?

If that same person was on a street corner convulsing or vomiting would we not insist or even demand something be done to help them?

When a child acts out it school, or falls behind their classmates, we justify our antipathy by blaming the parents or the schools themselves. But when a classmate develops a painful rash or runs a fever, it's immediately addressed and sympathized with.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful and impressed by the counselors and teachers employed by the school systems and I don't feel there is any problem with them.

It's society as a whole that I am simply dumbfounded by. Your brain is everything you are, literally; you are nothing but electrical signals passed and stored between neurons, everything you see, hear, smell or taste is 100 percent in your head.

So when that particular organ contracts or exhibits signs of disease, it is somehow different than when your kid runs a fever and vomits?

We have to do more. Plain and simple, we need to recognize mental disease as much as we recognize the diseases of every other organ of the body. No stigma, no shame, just acceptance and action.

I'm writing this in a raw mood, not 30 minutes before I found out a person I greatly admire and looked up to had taken his own life in a hotel room in France.

And, frankly it hurts, a lot. We have all been touched by suicide in some way and it's time we as a group of humans come to terms with some truths.

We have, in part, failed these beautiful people's memories by not doing more to recognize the disease of depression and its affects on those suffering from it.

 
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