It’s a Beautiful Day – to Share Your Story of Mental Illness or Recovery – It Can Help Others

May 10, 2018

By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart Learning Contributor


It’s time to wake up.  I was thinking about the presidential proclamation just signed on April 30, 2018, declaring the month of May as National Mental Health Awareness Month.  Recognizing the “tremendous strides in providing treatment and recovery support services for individuals who experience mental illness”, the proclamation also recognized that “negative stereotypes surrounding mental illness deter people who may experience these disorders from getting help.”[1]

 

Not long ago, a 16-year-old high school sophomore with good grades, athletic abilities, compassion for others, and a close-knit family ended his life because of the unrelenting pressure and stress he felt to succeed at school.  His mother wishes that he would have talked about his feelings and sought help.[2]  Yesterday, a very “well put together” friend explained that she has been suffering from major depression and had at least one suicide attempt in the past year.   This vivacious, beautiful, caring friend has been suffering silently and invisibly to everyone but her immediate family.  She said she felt ashamed that she was unable to change.  Healthcare professionals are not exempt either.  Today, Medscape reported the results of a study presented by Deepika Tanwar, M.D. at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018 annual meeting–that physicians experience the highest suicide rate of any profession, and more than double the rate of the general population.  Mood disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse were identified as possible causes, however it is not well understood why the rates are so high.[3]

 

Here’s what we do know.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.  In 2015, there were 44,200 suicide deaths, representing a suicide death every 12 minutes.  And, we know that those with mood disorders, like depression or bipolar disease, have a suicide rate that is 25 times that of the general population.[4]  This is a tragedy we need to end.

 

The Presidential Proclamation states, “This month, and always, we pledge to strive to eliminate the stigma of mental illness by increasing awareness for all Americans that these illnesses are common and treatable, and that recovery is possible.”[5]  After her suicide attempt, my friend made the decision to seek treatment.  On that day, she chose life.  She is here today to tell her story because she admitted she needed help.   By sharing her story, she helps eliminate the stigma of treatment and shows others that recovery is possible.  For her, it’s a beautiful day.

 

Let’s do our part.  Each of us can make a difference in the lives of others by simply caring and connecting.  Really listen.  Know the resources that are out there and share them with friends and colleagues who need them.  And, if you need them, don’t wait.  It should be a beautiful day for you, too.

 

To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call (800) 273-TALK (8255), 24-hours a day

 

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[1] Federal Register. (2018). Proclamation 9735 of April 30, 2018.  National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2018.  Retrieved May 08, 2018 from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/04/2018-09730/national-mental-health-awareness-month-2018

[2] The Orange County Register. (2018).  This 16-year-old’s suicide letters are a cry for help and a national call for change.  Retrieved May 08, 2018 from https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/19/this-16-year-olds-suicide-letters-are-a-cry-for-help-and-a-national-call-for-change/

[3] Medscape. (2018). Physicians Experience Highest Suicide Rate of Any Profession – May 07, 2018.  Retrieved May 08, 2018 from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896257?nlid=122269_4503&src=wnl_dne_180508_mscpedit&uac=105052BY&impID=1626983&faf=1#vp_1

[4] HHS.gov (2017). Every American Has a part to Plan in Suicide Prevention.  Retrieved May 08, 2018 from https://www.hhs.gov/blog/2017/09/12/every-american-has-a-part-to-play-in-suicide-prevention.html

[5] Federal Register. (2018). Proclamation 9735 of April 30, 2018.  National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2018.  Retrieved May 08, 2018 from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/04/2018-09730/national-mental-health-awareness-month-2018

May 9, 2018

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