Tonight, President Trump will give his State of the Union address. Some will love it, others will hate it, many likely won’t even watch. I don’t care where you fall on that spectrum. As I’ve said before, I don’t want this site to be political. Yet access to mental health care and a reduction in the stigma surrounding it should not be a political issue. While President Trump is likely to say that the State of our Union is strong, the fact is the state of our mental health nation is full of cracks. And too many people are falling through those cracks.
Over sixty percent of gun deaths in this country are by suicide. While I don’t have the data on this, I suspect a significant portion of those people either couldn’t get into see a therapist, couldn’t afford treatment, or felt too ashamed due to the paralyzing stigma surrounding mental health issues to seek help.
President Trump appreciates the idea of a self-made man. Yet, such thinking prevents true demonstrations of strength and humility: seeking help. Too few of our elected officials understand the plight of things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, and too many other disorders to mention. Too few recognize, while applauding the fact that the state of our union is strong, that the state of our mental health nation is crumbling. And lives our being lost.
I’ll say again, this isn’t a political issue. Long before I became interested in politics I struggled in silence with my mental illnesses. I’ve seen the darkness, and felt what it was like to start falling through the cracks. I’ve felt the fear of feeling like things will never improve, of not knowing how to pull myself out of the constant painful sense of hopelessness that comes with depression, of struggling to find a therapist only to find out they aren’t covered by my insurance and having to start all over or pay out-of-pocket for my care.
The state of our union overall maybe strong. Yet it will only remain strong if we embrace our compassion, reaching out to those at the greatest risk of falling through the cracks, before they are lost forever. Mental illness is serious. It can often be fatal. Yet it can be treated. It does get better, but that doesn’t come from the self-made man pulling himself up by the bootstraps, but rather by society recognizing the cracks in our mental health nation, and coming together to close them before more preventable deaths occur.