Mental illness will affect every single one of us.
As we progress through our life stages from pre-birth, to late adulthood and eventual death (1) every single one of us is vulnerable to mental illness or its effects.
While we may be personally spared the challenges of having a mental disorder, we may still be affected through a family member, a child, parent, grandparent, uncle/aunt/cousin/nephew; or through a member of our extended family. Alternatively we may be affected by the experience of a traumatic event such as the 911 World Twin Towers disaster or the atrocity of a mass killing perpetrated by someone with a mental illness.
On this World Mental Health Day, let us remind each other that we each have a responsibility to de-stigmatize mental illness, to assist those who are so affected through the provision of the best services possible, and to work on all aspects of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention (2).
In the past century, we have seen many developments in the treatment of mental disorders, from the psychotherapies, electroconvulsive therapy, narcotherapy, pharmacotherapy, psychosurgery, deep brain stimulation and alternative and complementary therapies. These modalities of treatment are being complemented by genetic and epigenetic manipulations. The latter include mind/body activities in particular spirituality, exercise, nutrition, active relaxation, recreation, adequate sleep, social activities, laughter and connections.
We each have a responsibility to protect each other from the stigma attached to mental illness. We each have a responsibility to protect and uphold the dignity of everyone, in particular those affected by a mental disorder.
On this, the World Mental Health Day, let us strive to make every day, every week, every month and every year a time for support of those with a mental health problem. Let us all strive to de-stigmatize mental illness so that those of us who are so afflicted will seek help, in the knowledge that we shall be respected, be served with dignity and be assisted in our recovery from what can be a debilitating illness.
So, better health and wellness to all across the world from all of us here, in North America.
- "The Human Oddyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life" – Thomas Armstrong, New York. Sterling 2008
- Institute for Work and Health – http://www.iwh.on.ca/wrmb/primary-secondary-and-tertiary-prevention