The early Greeks believed in a mind-body dualism or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. This belief has been proven to be wrong. What happens in the mind is inextricably connected to what happens in the body. Despite an indisputable modern day understanding of the connected nature of the mind and body, we continue to perpetuate artificial “silos” between what we consider “mental health” and “physical health.” This perpetuates the stigma associated with mental health.
I can remember not too many years ago when people would go to great lengths to hide common medical conditions, such as diabetes. They were often embarrassed and ashamed of their disease. Thankfully, there is no longer the same level of shame associated with diabetes. Students talk about their diabetes with their teachers and friends, tell them about warning signs, and pull others into a support and response team if their “biology” is off. There is now a broader social understanding of that physical condition – the pancreas is not producing the right levels of insulin for the body. We must understand that this medical condition is no different than the brain not producing adequate levels of serotonin, leading to depression.
Since we now have a better understanding of the “physical health” system, we need to similarly tackle the lack of parity around mental health and our nation’s growing mental health crisis.
What if tomorrow’s headline read, “Top Story: 1 in 5 children now have cancer”? We would all be floored, overwhelmed, and saddened. To make matters worse, what if the headline also said, “80 percent of those children will never receive the help they need.”
Simply put, we would not tolerate that as a society. We would storm the Capitol, call our schools, hold roundtables with our pediatricians…we would do whatever it took to make sure EVERY child received the care they needed so they could have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
May was recognized as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness.
Mental health crises occur in all demographics of race, ethnicity, religion, age and socio-economic statuses—mental health affects us all.
If we choose to change the conversation, to speak openly about mental health, we can have a happier, healthier society. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please speak up and find help.
For more information about mental health solutions, call a Care Coordinator toll free at 800-388-6247.
John D. Damon, Ph.D., is chief executive officer of Canopy Children’s Solutions.
Click here to view the original article from the Meridian Star, posted May 31, 2017.