Cause: Mental Health

In light of Friday’s murders and suicide, citizens of the United States immediately react with fear. Their children react with fear. This is a normal response after any shock. Elsewhere I said yesterday 27 lives are as essential as one, but when you’re in the center of black you can’t feel that your life or anyone’s is touched by light.

Earlier in the week I listened to an interview with a man who has put himself in danger and has many enemies for doing and saying what he believes in places where expressing a perspective seems to be a crime punishable by life imprisonment without just consideration. The interviewer asked if he was afraid, afraid of assassination by those close to him, wherever he is, and when walking along a street. Was he afraid for his family potentially being used to get to him.

He dismissed the fears. Paraphrasing, he said he weighed the cost of speaking and acting against injustice and corruption. He refused to live in fear for that was no place from which to live and the regret would be overwhelming.

His answer was profound for me because I recently have lived in fear for a number of personal reasons and I let it change my life and behavior. Yet why should I restrict my life and behavior when I have done no wrong?

September 11, 2001, the recent shootings here near Portland, Oregon, those in Connecticut, and in the past, initially have generated fear.

It is a rule that I do not discuss politics or religion, domestic or international. I do not plan to make exception here.

When immediate safety has been established, there is much to consider. Among them, I hope, will be mental illness. It isn’t something to avoid so as not to embarrass one’s family. It isn’t something that should be financially out of reach for anyone or restricted by geographic context. It affects each of us, as demonstrated yesterday, earlier this week, each day with the suicide of veterans, children, and adults of many backgrounds.

I remember lining up in school for scoliosis examinations. Then there were lice examinations. Both of these examples were from elementary school. Early mental health screening seems invasive and often offensive to families. More and more is being expected of teachers and public schools because children spend more waking hours with school staff than parental figures. It is also risky for a teacher to pry into the lives of children or confront parents and guardians with concerns.

I approached teachers with truth in the 1970s; they didn’t know how to respond. I approached non-adult family, not realizing they were as powerless as I was to initiate action. In retrospect, some family members admit I should have seen a counselor. My mental health, depression and other issues, was finally treated when in my twenties I experienced repeated violent nightmares with the same underlying theme so disturbing and out of character for me that I sought help. That scratched the surface anyhow.

There is something here to consider. Mental health is of great consequence, whether to few or many. I believe it is a cause not a symptom.

©2012 Sandra Davidson

One response to “Cause: Mental Health

  1. Unfortunately the phrase, “mental health” is fast becoming an oxymoron–much like “common sense”. We, as individuals, as a nation, a species, are living under unprecedented high levels of stress as we rush through our increasingly hectic days, on an overpopulated and unfairly resourced planet in the throes of rebirth, during a time when the social structures which held us together as a People have crumbled or fallen into disrepair.

    Unless we dream a new and more balanced way of life, heinous episodes of violence like Sandy Hook will not only continue, they will escalate as more and more people crack under the pressure of living in a complex world gone crazy.

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