Mental health is as important as physical heath

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Yesterday was the second anniversary of the death of Robin Williams. I take a moment of silence for his family today as they continue to grieve their devastating loss. Mental health issues are often under-reported or undiagnosed, but the good news is that it is treatable.

It’s just as important as treating physical health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. For example, someone with diabetes, treatment includes exercise, potentially insulin, and a healthy diet to regulate blood sugar.

{mosads}If a person with diabetes ignores their treatment then they are at higher risk of death. This is also the case with mental illness. If untreated, an individual is at higher risk of substance abuse/addiction and or suicide.  

I take a moment for all those who are still suffering with mental health disorders and addiction who are at risk of suicide. My hope is for them to seek the help they need and deserve.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 117 people commit suicide in the United States every day.

As a psychotherapist, I try my best to imagine walking in someone else’s shoes to understand their hurts, dreams, and world views.

I try to make sense of how desperate, alone, scared, and hopeless Robin Williams felt in the final days of his life. What was he thinking in those last moments? Suicide is not an act of weakness — it speaks to the level of pain someone must have been feeling and thinking there was no other way out of the struggle.  

Nobody is immune to the often times debilitating effects of mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate-no matter what age, class, race, or region. Whether there is a family history, a major life transition, or a chemical imbalance- we do ourselves and loved ones a disservice if we don’t take time to educate ourselves about the symptoms and treatment.

There are many options for treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — identifying automatic negative thoughts and patterns and then replacing them with more realistic and optimistic thoughts.

Prescription medications administered by a psychiatrist. Many can find solace in support groups lead by a trained professional or peer lead 12 step groups.

If someone is expressing a desire not to live or has a plan to harm themselves a higher level of care such as hospitalization or residential treatment will be necessary to keep them in a contained and safe environment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of depression or is at high risk of suicide there is help. Breaking the silence is the first step to moving toward a more fulfilled life and recognizing suicide is not an option.

 Kelley Kitley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and owner of Serendipitous Psychotherapy, LLC in downtown Chicago.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Mental health Mental health reform Robin Williams
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