Feel Something, Say Something
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there were 46.6 million adults (18+) with a mental illness in 2017. 1 in 5 adolescents have a mental health disorder according to NIMH and 1 in 6 children (aged 2-8) have a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder according to the CDC. That’s a lot of people struggling with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make going through their day particularly difficult if not impossible. Yet despite these staggering statistics, many people suffer in silence. A mere 42.6% of adults with a mental illness get treatment and about 60% of youth. People feel ashamed, alone, judged, burdensome, stigmatized, bad, unworthy, or think what they are experiencing is normal. Keeping it inside seems like a hard, but more appealing choice after they have weighed the options.
Law enforcement professionals encourage us to “see something, say something”. If things look suspicious or out of place, they urge us to report it because they would much rather check it out and find it inaccurate than to ignore it and then someone is hurt. I’m going to borrow their line and say, “feel something, say something.” We would much rather have people talk about how they feel, than get to a point where they feel so bad that they can’t go to school, work or take part in their normal activities. We would much rather take the time to talk than to have someone conclude that taking their own life is a viable option. Talking to a trusted, supportive family member, friend or community member (teacher, neighbor, fellow church member) can help you feel better. They probably see things in you that you don’t see in yourself. They may also be able to help you decide when it is time to seek professional treatment. Mental health treatment works and should be as normal to access as any other type of healthcare.
Starting this conversation can be hard. Mental Health America provides tips on how to do that. They suggest that you could start with a text if a face-to-face conversation is too hard. Or you could find and share information online that might help explain what you are going through. Then you can print it and bring it when you’re ready to talk. They also put together a letter that could help you get the words out. See more on this at their website (click here). This same site includes information on how you should respond if someone talks to you about their mental health concerns.
So please, if you are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed, chronically sad, out of control, frequently irritable, or just not yourself, SAY SOMETHING!