It’s Time to Speak up about Mental Illness – Kennedy’s “Don’t Deny Me” Campaign

If you suffer from PTSD or any other mental illness, you know how difficult it can be to get the care, treatment, and coverage that you need in order to get back on your feet. It’s no wonder that suicide rates are climbing higher and higher when people aren’t getting the proper treatments for mental health and substance abuse.


The rate of suicide has been steadily increasing for years, so much so that it has actually brought the average life expectancy down in the US – yet again. The life expectancy in 2017 was 78.6, where it was 78.7 the year before. The percentage of the country’s deaths by suicide increased from 1.6% to 1.7% between 2016 and 2017. If those aren’t drastic enough numbers for you, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by 10% from 2016 to 2017, setting a new record with over 70,000 drug related deaths.


It’s hard enough dealing with an illness like PTSD, depression, or anxiety every single day, but it’s even harder when you feel that there is no hope because it’s hard to get the coverage that you need. These kinds of illnesses have been taken far less seriously than others like cancer and diabetes. Because of this, as far as mental health and addiction recovery go, we are in a complete crisis.


Luckily, Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has stepped up once again by launching the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign, in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This act was created a decade ago to ensure equality and parity for mental health and addiction treatments, but many don’t know about this act, and those in law and healthcare can use this lack of knowledge to their advantage and still choose to deny you the care you need. We still have a long way to go if we are going to eliminate the suicide epidemic.


With the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign, Kennedy hopes to spread awareness of mental health and further share the knowledge that the Parity Act is there to help those that suffer. If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied treatment for a mental illness, then it’s time to step up. Many that suffer from addiction or mental illness feel that they are in this battle alone. But that is not the case, and Kennedy and everyone else involved in the “Don’t Deny Me” campaign wants you to know that. We can’t make any forward progress if we don’t come together as a community and stand up for ourselves and what’s right.


That’s what this new campaign is all about – working together to make positive changes in the healthcare community so that everyone can – and knows that they can – receive the proper treatment that they deserve.


Mental illness like PTSD, addiction, depression, and more are something that needs to be taken seriously once and for all. It can easily be bypassed by some, but don’t allow someone to deny you treatment if you are struggling. If we stand by each other, support each other, and work together as a community, we can finally make the difference that this world needs.

Could Substance Abuse be Causing PTSD?

It is a well known fact that those that suffer from PTSD are at a much higher risk for falling into substance abuse. Many people with PTSD often find themselves going for the bottle or something else harmful to help quickly find relief from their pain. But could early substance abuse actually lead to PTSD?


It turns out that there is a link between teens and young adults that abuse substances and later develop PTSD. So why is this?


The brains of teens and young adults are still developing, which is why alcohol and other substances are so dangerous for them. In the moment, downing a few shots might seem like a quick and easy solution for a teenager that is under a lot of stress. This is because they lack the ability to make rational and well-informed decisions, and instead act in the moment based on what seems the most rewarding.


But turning to unhealthy solutions can have a lot of consequences later on down the road. Alcohol and other drugs can have a negative effect on a brain that is still developing. It can inhibit growth, preventing the young person from ever being able to learn how to make better decisions or cope with things in a healthy way.


Facing the stresses of everyday life is enough for one person to have to deal with. But it’s even harder when you don’t have the mental capabilities to figure out how exactly you should deal with them. For someone who abused substances as a teen or young adult, it’s even harder because their brains were never able to develop and grow like they were supposed to. Smaller stresses are much bigger for these people, making it easier for them to develop life-altering PTSD.


If you or someone you know is struggling with a stressful situation, know that it does get better, and substance abuse is NOT the way to go. This is especially true for teens and young adults who still have developing brains. Abusing alcohol and drugs will only make things worse. It won’t make the stressful situation go away, and it will leave lasting effects on not only your physical body but also your mind. Clear thinking is essential for maintaining good mental health, and you just can’t do that if your head is fogged by toxic substances. The more you use these substances, the more likely it is that they will leave permanent effects on your mind and body.


Long lasting effects of alcohol aren’t the only thing to worry about though. When people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they are more likely to do things they will regret, or even put themselves in danger. Finding themselves in a bad situation because they decided to drink irresponsibly can be enough in itself to cause PTSD in someone.


Instead, consider practicing some healthier coping mechanisms, and maybe even start seeing a therapist. It could help you get through things, and even prevent you from developing PTSD later on down the road.