This week the fashion industry lost an inspirational designer and style icon with the suicide of Kate Spade. In 2014 Hollywood lost one of the most talented actors to suicide, Robin Williams. The number of lives lost to suicide has become staggering. While a high profile suicide brings attention to how devastating this disease is, it is important that everyone understand that there are numerous treatment options available.
There needs to be a push to eradicate the social stigma associated with mental illness, making it easier for those suffering to get the help they need. If a co-worker or peer was undergoing chemo treatments for cancer, people would rally around them, offer to provide transportation, sit with them and later deliver meals. If someone were struggling with the deep dark hole of depression, they most likely would need to seek help after work, be left alone while undergoing treatment, hopefully find the care they need or have to “get over it’.
While the stigma deters individuals from seeking help, it is important to know that there are a number of treatment options available for everyone. For those who have healthcare benefits consult your carrier to understand the mental health care coverage and list of covered providers. Often times if you do not have coverage many doctors will agree to see you on a sliding scale. If the cost of care continues to be a deterrent, there are local training institutes and university hospitals that will provide mental health care through students and interns.
After the horrific school shooting in Parkland, FL there was a frustration with the outpouring of prayers. While that was thoughtful, this community wanted a change in gun control policies. Similarly, when we are devastated by suicide we ask people to call hotlines at a time of crisis. What we need to do is educate communities on the affordable treatment options available to them in the hopes of intervening before a suicide. Both mass shootings and suicide stem from some form of mental health issues. This must become a larger part of the conversation.
Just as the brave students of Parkland are trying to change policies around gun control, there needs to be a louder voice around mental illness, and more education around the resources available for those suffering.
Let’s work to ensure everyone has access to the help they need and then we’ll conquer the social stigma.