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.

Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts During the Holidays

The holidays are here! Thanksgiving is behind us and now we get to spend the next month or more listening to Christmas carols and hearing about how great humanity is and how happy everyone should be.

 

Unfortunately, not everyone can feel so bright and bubbly. For many of us, this marks another special day alone. Another memory missed with our children or loved ones. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and we sit here thinking about all that we’ve lost – all that’s been taken from us. The happy music and promises of peace feel like a slap in the face when you’re dealing with abuse and alienation.  

 

For some of us, this will mean more days of sadness, depression, and anxiety. But for some, it can mean something even darker. It can be difficult to find a reason to go on. Suicide can sound like an easy way to end the pain.  

 

Crisis workers report that they see a dramatic increase in depression rates and people reaching out for help during the holidays, because of all the stress and loneliness. Those who are already prone to depression and suicidal thoughts – people like those who suffer from PTSD – are at an even higher risk.

 

No matter how bad things seem, suicide is not the answer. If you are having suicidal thoughts or feelings, STOP.  Remember, feelings – even these horrible feelings you have now – are temporary. They will go away and it will get better.  

 

Here are some action steps if you have any suicidal thoughts or feelings.

 

  • Promise not to do anything right now. As bad as it is, realize that suicide is permanent. Give yourself time to let the feelings pass.  Even if you just promise yourself a day or a week – don’t act in the moment.
  • Remember that suicide doesn’t stop the pain – it just transfers it to someone else. You may feel like you’re alone and there’s no one who cares, but they do. If you kill yourself, the pain and anguish you feel are just put onto them. Don’t put your loved ones through that.
  • Give yourself a safe space. If you feel like you’re starting to struggle, get rid of anything that could make it easier to commit suicide. Remove medicines, knives, guns, and anything else that could be harmful. Or go somewhere else where you feel safer. Sometimes a change of scenery can help anyway.
  • Most importantly, talk to someone. If you have a therapist, call them. If not, turn to your friends or family, let them help you. You can also call or text with a crisis hotline where they will talk you through what to do and how to face those feelings. But whatever you do, don’t try to handle it by yourself.  

Suicidal thoughts and feelings are very serious. Don’t wait until you start to act before you take steps to deal with them.  For more help, go to http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to a crisis counselor today.