I was sitting at my desk when the news broke on Friday afternoon that a fifteen year old student at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington had opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing at least one other student before taking his own life as well.
Another fourteen year old died over the weekend, bringing the death toll to three – all young teenagers.
Mental Health America hosted its 2014 Annual Conference in Atlanta last week, and it was a terrific and energizing event. Those who attended know what I’m talking about – the drive, the content, the messaging, the enthusiasm in the room – well, pretty much everything – suggested that in Mental Health America and its affiliates we have some of the most innovative, dedicated, and inspiring mental health advocates in the nation.
Here’s just a sampling of what transpired over the two days:
Robin Williams’ tragic and untimely death after a decades-long battle against bipolar disorder reminds us that mental illnesses are all-too-often serious and life-threatening chronic diseases.
Mental illnesses—especially serious ones—rob us of our health and well-being. They present daily challenges that can sometimes overwhelm us. No one is immune to them. And no matter how many resources they have or how successful they may appear to be, they may not ultimately be able to overcome them.
During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses.
Here’s what I mean – they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care. That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4.
Patrick Hendry, Senior Director for Consumer Advocacy at Mental Health America, was presented the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Reintegration Lifetime Achievement award at its Annual Conference this past week.
The award, which is supported by Eli Lilly and Company, recognizes a mental health leader and champion who has devoted his/her life to helping persons with mental illness recover; achieve their goals; and live full, productive lives in the community.
Hendry is generously donating the $10,000 cash prize that accompanies the award to Mental Health America.
Lars and The Real Girl is a sweet movie that shows the power of true community integration. It’s the story of a young man who needs help and finds it with his family, friends, co-workers and church. It’s the kind of story that needs to be told more often in the face of the cynical stories told today.
William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1600, telling the story of a prince dealing with the death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother to his uncle. The play uses mental health, both real and faked, as a way to show human behavior. Commonly studied in high schools all over America, this tale has had a profound effect on the way mental health is viewed.