This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Back in 1990, Congress established the first week of October as such, given NAMI's efforts at raising awareness for mental health issues. I didn't even know until tonight when I was googling mental health ideas in order to come up with something to write about tonight in this post. I guess that speaks a bit to how "aware" the public is about mental health in our society. I read an article recently in the Washington Post about how the mental health of many Americans has been dwindling due to job loss which leads to extended unemployment and feelings of despair and helplessness. I have definitely been there myself in the past. As I read the article, I found myself checking things off that I agreed with - there were so many. How when you first are laid off, you are so sad. Then you feel a sense of excitement as you eagerly start your job search. Then as the weeks and months go on, you start to feel depleted and discouraged. I can totally see how it could lead to severe depression. The article went on to talk about how, even when these people realize that they are in need of mental health services, they no longer have health insurance so they are not able to get the help they desperately need.
I hope that our government can get it together and provide these services to our citizens in need while they are in the midst of trying to find employment during this challenging economic time. I pray that these individuals have a strong support network through family and friends, to help them through this difficult time. And I hope that the holiday season and the new year brings new jobs to those in need.
Edited to add: My husband just asked me to look at the Facebook page of a friend of his (an acquaintance) from high school. She had apparently posted some weird status updates lately and he thought it looked like she might need help. He and I have been so immersed in my mental health issues for the past six years that when something like this comes up, it throws up red flags to both of us immediately. I was almost in tears reading her words. It seems to me she is suffering and is trying desperately to reach out for help from anyone. I begged him to call a few of his friends to see if anyone knew someone who could help her. He's still working on it. I hope that somehow he'll be able to reach someone who knows her and can step in before something tragic happens. Life is worth living and I pray that she'll be able to see that.
He was able to reach one person who knows her, and that person is having lunch with another person who knows her. He asked her to call that person to explain what we've read on Facebook to see if they can help. He's also going to send her a message to ask if there is anything he can do to help. It's the least we can do.