Sunday, June 26, 2011

Community of Healing or Despair

Ellenville Middle School, Ellenville, NY, USAImage via Wikipedia
I tend to post things about kids and their travels through the difficult years to adult hood when things really get weird. The absolute worst period for a child is middle school years. It is so bad they actually created separate schools just for this age group! Remember back in the day when they were in with the elementary schools kids? In looking at kids who are hitting this dramatic time in their lives, we must also look at the bigger picture of the community. What does the community give these kids as role models and attitudes about health, wellness and compassion? I added compassion specifically because of the over whelming  urge to find some one's weakness and hammer on it until they break. Kids will do what they see as being the accepted norm. Maybe parents are not engaging in belittling behaviors but look at the rest of the community. Look at the tv ads, the magazine articles.. or just the headlines at the checkout stand. We tend to sensationalize people's despair. We talk about the latest star to go to rehab like it is a sign of weakness. No wonder people are afraid to even consider the possibility of a mental health issue or a drug and alcohol problem. We as a community should be supporting people who recognize they need help. no matter what the thing is they are seeking help for. We should be secure enough to know that there are diseases of the brain just like there are disease of the heart or thyroid glad. The strength to realize that you or a child of yours requires help you are not capable of giving them is a sign of deep care and love for that person... especially if the person is you. I listen to kids everyday. They talk about how bad they feel because they aren't as good as they should be. They aren't as talented as they should be, not as smart, pretty, athletic, cool.. the list is lengthy. The despair these kids feel in tangible. And they feel that no one is listening or cares. They talk about their parents and how hard it is to talk to them. They are genuinely fearful of telling their parents they feel like hurting themselves or dying all the time.  They are afraid of being sent to a mental hospital. The over riding fear associated with this is what will people think? If you need to be locked up, then you are crazy, bananas, wacko, whatever the current term is. If you drink too much and take drugs, you are cool at first, then just a really bummer person to be around. If you get help then you are not fun anymore cause you don't drink or smoke anymore. The community as a whole needs to promote people getting help. It needs to celebrate recovery from all diseases in a grand fashion. We have walks for cancer survivors. They wear pink ribbons and proclaim their years of recovery in a very public forum. Where is the forum for recovery from mental illness or substance abuse? Where are the runs and parties and balloons? Did you know there is a walk every year for people who have lost someone to suicide? It happens all across the country and it is called  the Out of Darkness walk. NAMI has a walk to promote mental illness as a treatable malady that people do recover from. Clarity Child Guidance Center in San Antonio had their first ever Pinwheel Run for Hope to bring a level of focus to the fact that kids have mental health needs that we are not recognizing, and to raise money to treat kids who don't have insurance or are under insured when it comes to metal health. There are grass roots organizations that are working to destroy the stigma that surrounds these diseases and brig them into main stream health discussions, just like obesity and diabetes. It is time we all join in this fight. It is time that we as  community, support all efforts to be healthy both physically and mentally. It is time for open and honest talking with our kids about what to do if you feels like dying, or if you are too anxious to be able to concentrate, or you have been experimenting with drugs and think it might be a problem. It is time to help our kids create a community they can be proud of and participate in. It is time for us to stand up for our own well being. We re the problem so lets be the solution too.

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