Our Country is in a Mental Health Crisis
I’m normally not as direct in my titles, but for this week, given the gravity of the topic, I felt it necessary to get right to the point: our country is in a mental health crisis. As I’ve read (and in some cases avoided reading) the hot takes coming out of this week, something lingered with me. People are hurting. You, who are reading this, may be hurting. Our world is shattered. Over a century has passed since World War I, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, started and ended, and the memories and the messages of those wars fought so long ago have faded. War now threatens all of Europe once again. There are pandemics and new viruses popping up everywhere. Anxiety about the future is at all-time high. People are distraught. People are hurting. In some cases, that leads to the events of this past week, which, as I write this, led to the death of 20+ young souls in Uvalde, Texas. Our country is not just faced with a mental health crisis; our country is deep in the middle of it. Of that there can be no doubt.
But rather than focus on policy and the inevitable debates that people of all political beliefs may argue, I want to share with you a different anecdote to drive the point home. An acquaintance of mine, last week, attempted to take his own life. He had long spoken of how he would never do so, but after some sad news, he decided that he could not go on. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the news. Rather, I want to use that as a platform to discuss two separate issues.
First, as we mentioned throughout this month, mental health awareness isn’t just about that acquaintance or the young man in Uvalde. It is about each and every one of us. We all, in some ways, struggle with varying degrees of difficulties in our life. Sometimes, those difficulties can be too much for us to bare alone. We may reach out to friends or family, only to find they seem to busy to be our support. And in those times, we may decide we’ve come to a decision point, where action must be taken. Perhaps you’ve found yourself struggling with that and trying to figure out what that decision point looks like. ‘Do I need therapy?’, you might ask yourself. ‘Am I able to get through this alone?’, you may ponder. But you don’t have to do it alone and it doesn’t make you weak or any less capable if you decide you do, in fact, need the help or guidance of another person. I direct you to my recent conversation with Rachel, which can be found here and here, for more on how to reframe that. Nonetheless, the point remains: you are never alone. Just as Dr. Jaimee explained in this month’s ‘Notes from the Cornerstone’ newsletter. If all of us are on a journey towards better mental health and self-discovery, then there should not ever be a stigma attached with actually seeking help. To that end, all of us at Cornerstone want to encourage you in your journey, and to ignore the noise that would have you believe otherwise.
The second point to draw out of the recent happenings in the news is one that we often dance on tip-toes about, rather than discussing frankly. Suicide. It’s at record levels. People are hopeless. Justin commented to me as we discussed this topic, “when nihilism runs amok, oftentimes, people think that they are doing a good thing by ending their or others lives”. Let that one sink in for a second. As I mentioned above, the world is broken and crying. It’s desperate for a solution. So many people in our society have lost their faith: their faith in God, their faith in institutions, their faith in the government, their faith that their leaders will make the right, moral decisions. In this climate, where people have been constantly barraged with sad, bad, or depressing news, where every action or inaction of government is viewed as being the worst possible thing ever to face our world, our society, or our town, it is easy for people to lose hope. It does not help that this doom is pressed upon our children at such a young age either. It fosters a growing sense of sadness, malaise, and even anger, to think that society or society’s leaders care little if at all about their future. This sadness has led to suicide being the second highest leading cause of death in people American teens and young adults in America.
That brings me to two final points: First, if this is speaking to the struggles you often have, please know that you are not alone and there is reason for hope. As Dr Jaimee commented in our most recent newsletter, “Mental Health Awareness Month is for and about you and for those who have yet to make that call and may not know where to begin”. That acquaintance of mine I mentioned above didn’t know where to begin. He didn’t know who to call. If you’re reading this and you aren’t sure either, please know that you can start your journey with us anytime. We also encourage you if you are currently in crisis and need immediate support, dial 211 or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255. If you’re active-duty military or a veteran, you can also get support at the Veterans Crisis Line. Additionally, for first responders, you can get additional support with Safe Call Now. It is a confidential, 24/7 crisis referral service for all public safety employees, emergency services personnel, and their family members. You can also call them at: (206) 459-3020.
Second, it’s time we stopped dancing around the subject of suicide and mental health and started making it more common. I started off this blog very directly for that exact reason. People’s lives are at stake. Instead of placing a stigma on those who struggle with their mental health, we need to talk openly about it. We at Cornerstone want to encourage you to be a beacon of hope to those around you. By talking openly about mental health and the crisis our country is in, we can destigmatize it. Suicide is a massively difficult subject to talk about, but it is because of that that we need to open the windows and let the light in on it.
If any of the subjects discussed in this blog affected you and you feel as though you need to speak to someone, please reach out to us. If you are in crisis and need to talk to someone immediately, call 1-800-273-8255 or text 838255.