Since time immemorial, comorbidity between drug use-related disorders and mental health problems has baffled scientists. Imagine being confined to a secure mental hospital, or treated with powerful antipsychotic drugs, or living for decades struggling to maintain normal memory and behaviour patterns, when all along there has been an infection secretly living in your brain and nerves.
When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
I only knew about mental health when it effected me, before this point I didn’t realise what a problem in our world it really is, not a problem in that suffering from an illness is bad, a problem in the way of we don not know about it. In school growing up, when people are absorbing so much knowledge as they grow up we are taught about cancer, we are taught about all different diseases but I can’t remember any lessons growing up where we we taught about mental health.
And then, despite the trendy chat about awareness of mental illness, there remains a huge stigma associated with it; this comes from fear derived from ignorance, and plain prejudice (both of which, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve encountered not infrequently amongst my former medical colleagues).
The primary call to action for the month will be for people to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them using #mentalillnessfeelslike, and the secondary call to action will be for people to take a screen at if they think they are showing signs/symptoms of a mental illness.