Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge weighs in and adds her voice to what many people have been saying for some time now; in terms of mental health, stigma is the enemy. In a new public service announcement (PSA), like the one released by health.com on Feb. 17, 2015, the Duchess has asked that we “…help young people and their parents understand that it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.” Within the PSA, Middleton briefly mentions bullying, bereavement, domestic violence, family breakdown and other common factors that need to be addressed. These traumas potentially lead to anxiety, depression, addiction and self harm. The Duchess reminds us all that there’s no need to wait to get involved with programs that help families tackle the needs of their members struggling with mental health (including bi-polar disorder), domestic violence, and substance abuse. She and Prince William both support Place2be, the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) leading provider of school-based mental health and their first annual Children’s Mental Health Week Feb. 16-22, 2015.
Meanwhile in the US, May 7, 2015, will mark the 10th anniversary of the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (SAMHSA). A couple of years ago, during the National Conference on Mental Health, it was reported that there were an estimated 45 million Americans who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and similar illnesses. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5) children currently have or previously have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Prevalent childhood disorders include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders, major depression, panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorders and eating disorders.
Between all of the above illnesses, approximately 15 million of our nation’s youth could currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder however, only about 7 percent of them might actually receive the appropriate level of care from mental health professionals (Report of the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health: A National Action Agenda; Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). The SLHLE, The Duchess of Cambridge, mental health professionals and vloggers (huffingtonpost.com) would like to tell those suffering that this number is too high. Further:
- There is no shame in having a mental disorder (the mental disorder is not the individuals’ fault)
- There is no shame in being unable to manage a disorder alone (medicines or some form of therapy may be necessary for biological or hereditary illnesses)
- Getting peers and family to understand the disorder will take time
- Understanding how the disorder affects you personally is the first step to managing it
- Help and support is available (things can get better!)
The US and the UK are not the only countries still struggling to convince communities not to ostracize those in need; a global effort and response are needed. Diagnoses aside, individuals who question their mental health, believe they have an addiction or have suffered from some life-altering emotional occurrence (e.g., grief or extreme loss, new baby, loss of job or home, etc.), should seek professional help. To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or click here. To contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline, click here. For local support in St. Louis (for mental health, domestic violence, crisis intervention, etc.), click here. For resources community health center in St. Louis, click here. Disclaimer.