Every time there is a national tragedy, it seems as though there is an immediate need to classify the perpetrator as “mentally ill."  It serves to separate “us” from “them”, and make “us” feel better about ourselves.  But it also does two other things, which are potentially as detrimental as whatever the tragedy was in the first place.  For starters, it reinforces the inaccurate stigma that those who are mentally ill are prone to violence.  And by doing so, makes it less likely that those who are having actual mental health concerns will be willing to raise their hand and get the help they need.

 

Have you ever lost a job?  Been through a divorce?  Relocated?  Sent a child off across the country for college?  Retired?  Mourned the passing of a loved one?  Then you too have been touched by one or several of the daily activities that create the need for comprehensive, mental health services right here in the south central Kansas area.  Twenty percent - 1 in 5 - of the people reading this right now had, or will have, a mental health concern during 2017.  And another 20% will have one in 2018.  If you know more than four people, then odds are pretty good that you know someone who needs the services provided by the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.  And society’s need to classify “us” and “them” is potentially a part of what is keeping them from trying to get the help that they need.

 

Make the holidays not a reason for depression, but rather an opportunity to seek out ways of making our communities, families, and social groups healthier and stronger.  Look for warning signs, and make a phone call.

— Eric Litwiller, Director of Development and Communications, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.