Educating about Mental Illness

As I have blogged during this #write31days, the reality of how many individuals and their family/friends have been affected by mental illness has been confirmed. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2012, an estimated 43.7 million American adults were affected by a mental health illness. And there are more cases reported daily. So again my plea is for us to continue to educate about mental health issues.

I am not a health care professional but I appreciate and am thankful for many organizations and people who are helping to educate about mental illnesses. Today I thought I would share a couple of organizations that are doing just that. Actress Glenn Close and her sister (who lives with a mental illness) started the organization Bring Change 2 Mind. Their mission is “to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through widely distributed Public Education Materials based on the latest scientific insights and measured for effectiveness. To act as a portal to a broad coalition of organizations that provide service, screening, information, support and treatment of mental illness.” You can find more information here BringChange2Mind.
I also appreciate all that the National Alliance on Mental Illness does to educate about mental health issues. NAMI works to offer hope and healing because those living with mental illnesses need a community that supports them, their families and their recovery. NAMI works every day to save every life. You can find more information here National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Earlier I also wrote a post about Media and Mental Illness that talked about the book and movie Silver Linings Playbook. If you haven’t already checked out the book or movie, I would definitely recommend that you do. I also came across this book Blessed Are the Crazy by Sara Griffith Lund. I have not read this book myself but I hope to check it out soon. I was incredibly surprised by the number of books dealing with mental illnesses when I typed “mental illness” into the search engine of GoodReads. 
Are there any books, movies, resources that you would recommend for those who daily live with mental illness and their family/friends?

Media and Mental Illness

I grew up watching the soap opera The Young and the Restless. It was one of Mom’s favorites. A couple of years ago, the writers of the show surprised me when they diagnosed one of their main characters Sharon Newman with Bipolar disorder. I was thankful and proud of them for taking on this illness, but I was afraid that the storyline would continue and they would never mention Sharon’s illness again. However much to my surprise, that has not been the case. Even today, they bring up her diagnosis. It is a small step, but I think it is a step in the right direction; a step to continue to educate others about mental illnesses.

I also was quite impressed with the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” which stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence released in 2012. I had seen the previews but didn’t know a ton about the storyline. That day as my sister and I sat in the movie theatre, we found ourselves fully pulled into the storyline. In fact, the movie was so powerful that I ended up downloading the book onto my Kindle the minute I finished the book I was currently reading. The book, of course, was better than the movie which usually is the case. But the movie didn’t stray too far from the manuscript of the book. I even bought a copy of the DVD when the movie was released. So if you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend you see it. Or if you are a reader, definitely read the book too! I think it will help you understand and educate you about mental health issues.

Media has a way of using mental health in a negative light. It seems that anytime there is something bad like a school shooting, media jumps to the conclusion that the person has a mental health issue. I am not arguing that that may not be the case, but if that is true, they need to get help. Mental illnesses are treatable. I think of an article I once read about Adam Lanza after the Sandy Hook shooting. The article was titled (if I am remembering correctly) ” I am Adam Lanza’s Sister.” I may not be Adam Lanza’s sister but I could be. In fact, many individuals out there are. They are someone’s wife, daughter, mother, sister, and the list goes on. In fact, I am a daughter….a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. Yet Mom has never let her illness get in the way of who she is.

Earlier this morning, I read a tweet that one of my seminary classmates and friends retweeted from Soren Kierkegaard. The quote is such a beautiful quote and I think it is so true. I think we need to take the time to show love to each other; to show love to those who have been pulled in by the darkness. Love, especially God’s love, has the power to overcome even the darkness of a mental illness. In fact, I hope that the media will follow examples like Y and R and Silver Linings Playbook or even Robin William’s death to remind us how these individuals are not defined by their illnesses, but rather defined by who God created them to be.

“When you fully enter the realm of love, this broken world becomes rich and beautiful, and consists solely of opportunities for love.”–Soren Kierkegaard