Mental Health Awareness…”So many people are trying to hide something that needs to be talked about.” Brandon Marshall, wide receiver, Chicago Bears…

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An estimated 590,000 mentally ill patients a year end up in a defacto system of mental health care, including jails and prisons, the streets, and homeless shelters where suicide is a high risk. Click graphic for a larger view…

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The cost of treating mental illness…click graphic to expand view…As states have cut mental health funding, many have increased spending on prisons and jails, says D.J. Jaffe, executive director of MentalIllnessPolicy.org, which advocates for patients with serious mental illness.

USA Today…”The Cost of Not Caring” by Liz Szabo…click here for an in-depth report…

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Brandon Marshall Foundation, team up to fight stigma of mental illness…

Brandon Marshall Foundation… click here for more…

“So many people are trying to hide something that needs to be talked about, and if it’s talked about, so many lives will be saved, says Marshall, who created the Brandon Marshall Foundation to help others with mental illness.”

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It is easy to say “we need to talk about mental health awareness,” but it will take decades of talking to change our culture of denial and remove the stigma from society.  Just this week several people close to me shared stories of the risk of revealing and talking about mental health challenges.  What is very similar about these and many other stories, including my own experience, is the push back and denial connected with talking about the truth and seeking treatment.  Most mental health conditions are manageable if treated effectively…sooner than later is much better…

Younger people are at the highest risk of paying a big price for revealing a standing mental health issue of any type.  Bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress, and clinical depression are high on the list of manageable mental health problems that can kill a career, stop a great opportunity in life, or even break up a loving relationship.  The worst case scenario we want to avoid is suicide.  We survivors pay the price at all ages, especially during our wage earning and career years.  I remember well in 1965 when my first career opportunity with General Telephone & Telegraph in Redondo Beach, California, was cut short of an offer to join the company because of a mental health diagnosis connected with my honorable service in the US Navy.

It was a surprise and shock to me to be told I could not be hired because my military record (DD214) showed a coded medical and mental health status that was “worrisome.”  That year of 1965 was the first time my apparent condition and diagnosis of the symptoms related to what we now know as PTSD became a reality.  From that point forward and during my entire adult life, no one else was ever told or knew.  My US Navy vocational training and skills saved the day when finally hired by the Western Union Telegraph Company.  I was very lucky to get a job that started me off in my career and gave me confidence and hope as a young man.   Although we know much more today than we did then about moral injury and PTSD, especially with soldiers returning home from hard combat duty, nothing has changed for most people who are compelled to keep their mental health challenges and treatment a secret.  And because of the stigma, the lives of sufferers, including children and families, are at risk every day.  Change is slow, but will happen someday, long after my lifetime…

I continue to be very encouraged as more well known leaders and celebrities like, Brandon Marshall, join the cause of mental health awareness.  The first step in changing the very soul of America and attitudes around the globe regarding mental health stigma and denial is awareness.  So we must talk and write about this subject, with the passion and energy that will eventually get through to future generations.  It is with our children that we will change, and someday break the cycle of pain and denial that haunts millions of survivors of traumatic life experiences and other mental health challenges that require professional treatment and healing…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

 

 

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