It is so amazing how organizations are popping up all over the world helping us join forces to tackle mental health diseases. I was privileged enough to speak in Athens, Greece a few years ago about iFred’s rebranding depression work, and learned from countries around the world just how important it is we work together to solve our greatest challenges.
I’ve just recently been asked to join their advisory board, and continue to be amazed and impressed by the work of all throughout the world.
It was celebrated across the U.S. when we were able to get mental health parity law passed. I don’t by any means intend to minimize this work – but do we realize that what we accomplished was to treat the brain in a similar fashion to the heart, liver, and intestines? Should we really have to fight that hard for that? Those that were involved in the legislation understand the intense work, dedication, and challenge this simple piece of legislation involved – and unfortunately the rest of the world is so far behind us in many different ways.In Accra, Ghana, for example, folks with mental health issues, including depression, are chained to trees and made to fast in the hot sun to chase out the ‘supposed demons.’ There is legislation being proposed now to make it a crime to rape those with mental health disease. Imagine rape NOT being considered a crime? People that appear ‘different’ are abused, ostracized, and instead of being put in places that help, are just put in circumstances that bring out the worst of their depression, creating a worse problem.
I, personally, can’t imagine growing up in a place where I see people killed on the streets every day. Where war and crime are a common part of each and every day. An environment where women are brutally violated and kids are treated like property. Where my fear does not just stem from ‘dad getting mad,’ but from fear of staying alive from day to day.
I was filled with awe as I saw people from all over the world at this Global Mental Health Movement Conference courageously fighting for the rights of others while risking their own life by speaking out on these abuses throughout the world. In the U.S. we fear for our reputation when we disclose our mental health disease or advocate for others. Imagine living in a country where you fear for your LIFE by talking about it.
Media outlets shy away as well. They don’t want to touch the subject. Thankfully, we had the BBC on site covering everything we did, interviewing doctors, survivors of abuse, schizophrenic patients, world advocates and more. Interesting enough, they won an award for the show and stated it had an incredibly high listenership and folks from all over the world tuned in, asking questions and sharing stories. We are all one.
I found it interesting that it was challenging to get doctors to speak on record from other countries, because they don’t want to give information that is not ‘right.’ Unfortunately, the reality is there is so LITTLE we know about mental health issues doctors don’t realize their expertise is all we have at this time. We need to share what we know, until we learn more and have better information and can build on our mistakes. Without a voice from doctors, mental health does not get the importance and seriousness it needs to be understood as a medical condition that has both psychological AND physiological components.
I strongly encourage you all to show your support on a global scale, and JOIN THE MOVEMENT– your company, you personally, or your nonprofit. It’s free, and a symbolic and powerful way to support others that risk their lives every day fighting for the rights of others that can not speak for themselves.
Find out more about Mental Health Blog Day below!