Yet another reason why I am so glad I listened to my husband and moved to Howard County: the government officials are quite proactive here. Another move in the right direction for the health of Howard County will be a mental health task force. Nearly six months after that horrendous and unforgettable shooting at Columbia Mall, County Executive Ken Ulman announced that the county is establishing a mental health task force to create “a comprehensive behavioral health action plan”. I don’t know what the actions will be but my hope is that it address stigma.
Stigma, that nasty six letter word, is one thing about mental health that folks tend to overlook. There’s plenty of outcry for providers, for access to providers, for insurance, for medications, for culturally sensitive care, etc. All of those are critical. But in order for people to get the help they need, they must seek it out and admit they have a problem. That’s not easy when we still use phrases like “going postal” or “he’s certifiable”. Stigma is a silent bully that comes between and unwell person and healing. It is absolutely critical that this task force address the ongoing stigma that surrounds mental health.
Not to mention mental health encompasses many illnesses and disorders. I hope people know that it’s not just people who hear voices. It’s also people who suffer from depression or anxiety. It’s the veterans and victims of abuse who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD. It’s the women with post-partum depression. It’s substance abusers. It’s domestic violence abusers. It’s people with anger issues. It’s people with obsessive compulsion disorders. The list goes on for minute. For personal reasons, I want that task force to address the stigma that surrounds getting special education in schools. No more insults that include “short yellow bus” or “retarded”. That isn’t funny or witty.
I wish I could tell you guys how much mental health issues mean to me. Let’s just say I’ve witnessed enough in my lifetime to be an strong advocate for mental health assistance. I never take for granted that someone can just “get over it”. I wish to God it was that simple but it’s not. Every person could probably benefit from some couch time with a professional. There’s no shame to that.
Anyway, before I start getting all emotional and crying and snotting all over my keyboard (not a pretty sight for a pretty lady like me), I’ll send you to the news link that explains more about the task force. Good luck to them!!