With the tragic loss of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade to suicide this week, I wanted to share my thoughts on emotional wellness and mental illness. It’s time to change the way we (as a society) view mental illness and shift our focus to achieving emotional wellness.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
What does this mean? As Americans, we are all touched by mental illness. It is prevalent in our families, our friends, and our communities.
Our conventional healthcare system simply does not know how to handle mental illness or promote emotional wellness.
Despite scientific advances in understanding brain chemistry, there is a shame-based social stigma attached to conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar syndrome. Some professions/societies go so far as to penalize those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. As a result, millions of Americans suffer in secret because they are reluctant/scared to seek help.
As we’ve witnessed this week, social status, wealth, achievements, age, race, religion, and outward appearances do not protect anyone from suffering in secret from a mental illness. It can literally affect anyone at any time. There are not always outward signs of an impending mental crisis. Everyone we meet is fighting some type of battle that we know nothing about.
As a holistic practitioner, I treat patients as a whole person, mind-body-spirit. This approach is particularly helpful to de-stigmatizing mental illness and promoting emotional wellness. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, exercise, nutrition, meditation, gua-sha and tui-na are all helpful tools to promote a health emotional balance.
If you know someone whom is suffering, please know that help is always available, often at no-cost or low-cost. Now here is the shift to a societal focus on emotional wellness… as their friend (and as a fellow human), realize that you (yes! YOU!) have a responsibility to step up and find help when they cannot ask for it themselves.
Here’s where you can find help for your friend/spouse//lover/ex-lover/brother/sister/cousin/mother/father/aunt/uncle/teacher/colleague:
Mental Health America
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat. If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1‑877‑SAMHSA7 (1‑877‑726‑4727). Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
The Child-Help USA 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453) crisis line assists both child and adult survivors of abuse, including sexual abuse. The hotline, staffed by mental health professionals, also provides treatment referrals.
If you know someone who is suffering, open your heart to them with love and understanding. If you are suffering, be kind to yourself and confide in someone to get you the help you deserve.