Over the past few days I have seen some news items that really point out the need for more comprehensive mental health assistance. Between the situations with the firefighter threatening his co-workers in Kansas City and the police standoff with ex-Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown at his home near South Bend, the subject seems to come up again and again.
Without a doubt, issues of mental health seem to have always been one of those sensitive issues that no one would talk about. However, there was an article in Sports Illustrated this past week about the Miami Dolphins' Brandon Marshall in which he has been candid about his mental health challenges. His bravery in discussing the subject openly has been refreshing, as it is a message to others who have issues that they are not alone, and that seeking help is not a sign of weakness.
Any admission of mental incapacity is traditionally stigmatized but it really shouldn't be. Mental health problems originate from a number of different sources, but especially now in our nation, everyone is subject to being overwhelmed. The stress that I can personally sense with a number of people I know is higher than I have ever known it to be and I'm positive that anyone reading this probably knows their share of individuals who are struggling as well. Between the roller coaster ride our economy is on, the overwhelming number of jobless, foreclosures, environmental disasters, terrorism, and other world wide concerns, even if you are normally pretty stable, in these times pretty much anything could be the final straw.
We spoke of inordinate stress reactions before in this forum, like back with the massacre in Arizona where a firefighter failed to respond to this incident. There were plenty of people who were quick to judge but had no idea what the basic issues were. I don't even know that we still have all the answers. But while today you may feel like you have a grip on things, tomorrow could be the beginning of the end of your current world. I heard a figure the other day that said that one out of every seven Americans right now is on the food stamp program. I'm watching Dateline NBC as I am writing this, where Lester Holt is doing a piece on three women in Millen, GA and the effect the economic recession is having on this small town.
It's easy to be smug about how good your life is when things are going well. It's easy to think that someone who is having a major crisis should just suck it up, because really, how bad can it be? Well, it is a testament to the maturity level of some of the trolls who prowl the web as to how quick they question someone's integrity because, say, they aren't half the Superman they happen to be. Frankly, I have met some of the individuals who make statements that parallel the "We fight what you fear" mentality and you know, I question their sanity and their ability to fight fire more than anyone who has the courage to admit they need some help.
There is a dividing line between those who need institutional care and those who are in the midst of a crisis. And while the grand arena is "mental health" and I am in no way qualified or knowledgeable to discuss the differences, there is an obvious need for people to be compassionate and understanding, because today's bad day could be tomorrow's nightmare. Don't be so quick to make statements that question someone's dignity just because they have hit a wall. I hope to never face those challenges myself and I hope you don't ever have to either. If you need help, get help. And if you know someone who needs help, be a real leader and do what you can do to compassionately point them in the right direction.