The numbers are staggering. They include statistics like “1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year” and “1 in 6 youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.” The facts are sobering, they are real, and they don’t discriminate. Mental illness pardons no gender, no skin color, no political party. It spares no educational achievement, no age, no title, no social status.
Mental health is a subject I deeply care about. It touches all of us, someway, somehow. We all know a child who is battling pressures from a culture inundated with social media and skewed messages about worth or an adult in the throes of depression just trying to make it through another day. There are veterans with severe PTSD we’ve done a terrible job taking care of, seniors who are struggling to find joy in assisted living facilities, and I’m sure we could all describe a homeless person we recognize on our way to work who is visibly struggling. There are teens couch surfing while they finish high school and moms and dads who see no way out of a drug addiction.
There is no option but to do better. What worked before is no longer working and it’s time for someone with creativity and connectivity to approach the problem with a solution focused perspective. That is me. I can bring the key players to the table to discuss and execute things like multi-agency crisis response teams and medically assisted treatment programs. I believe the root of our community’s social issues stem from mental health and if we face them head on and start treating our people, and the issue, with the respect it deserves, we will see forward momentum toward a stronger, more stable, more supported community.
It’s time to shatter the stigmas and put in the work. Our families deserve it. Our county deserves it. Humanity deserves it.