Jeff Johnson Putting Mental Illness on the Forefront

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  • Good Morning All. As the country is bombarded with the coverage of the shooting of 26 souls in CT everyone is seeking answers. We are also as a nation trying to figure out what we target as the solution to preventing this from happening again. Gun control is one of many issues, but it is not a silver bullet (pun intended) to the crisis of violence.

    Another area amongst the many that need attention is mental illness. But we cannot talk about it within the context of the four tragedies’ that have happened during President Obama’s administration. Because if we do we have already lost. We have saved the discussion about mental illness for the times when people have lost lives. When someone shoots up a movie theater or a mother drowns her own children. But that is only one small face of mental illness.

    A report from the World Health Organization noted that mental illness — that is, any mental disorder — accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. The CDC reported in a less recent study that 25% of adults in the US REPORTED having a mental illness. What about those who didn’t report? To go further the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration<http://www.samhsa.gov/> released a report in January stating about 11.4 million adult Americans this year have suffered from such severe mental illness that it interfered with day-to-day school, work or family. And if that were not enough nearly 2 million teens, or 8 percent of the adolescent population, experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Only 60% of people with Mental Illness in the US get treated and of course people of color are diagnosed and treated the least.

    We will wear yellow wristbands for men’s cancer, pink anything for breast cancer, walk for the march of dimes, wear a red ribbon for HIV/AIDS, but we only want to talk about mental illness when there is a senseless death. We need to make this issue a part of our daily social and political discourse.

    These are our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, family and friends. They are not struggling with thoughts of killing. They are struggling with strategies for living. Isn’t that worth our attestation? How many of these mass killers could have been helped had we been as aggressive talking about, diagnosing, comprehensively treating and openly loving those with minor to severe mental illness. As important, how many of our family members would be living more productive and emotionally and psychologically whole lives if we made Mental Health the priority it should be?

    There isn’t enough time to go deep this morning, so join me on The Intersection this Sunday from 5-7pm with mental health professionals and those managing their mental illness to talk solutions and resources.  You can watch at www.blis.fm<http://www.blis.fm>. If we want to win this battle Adam Lanza cant be the face of mental illness. We must be.

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