Let's Talk the Talk

Amy Eisenman's picture

Recently, there have been too many tragedies in our society to count. Unfortunately, this is a pattern we've yet to break. Each morning, when I wake up, I check the news. At times this becomes a depressing start to my day. The headlines vary from "bullying is running wild" to "let's talk about gun violence." Regardless of the topic and issue at hand people always ask me the same question, "what is their diagnosis?" This question baffles me and offends me greatly. Kathleen Sebelius posted an article in USA Today on February 4, 2013 discussing the advances our society has made in the mental health arena. In the article she states, "The vast majority of Americans with a mental health condition are not violent. In fact, just 3% to 5% of violent crimes are committed by individuals who suffer from a serious mental illness." With this statement in mind, why am I constantly being asked, as a therapist, to diagnose everyone who commits a crime? Again, the idea baffles me.

Fifty years ago President John F Kennedy started paving the road for mental health treatment in America. Today, President Barack Obama continues this work. Whether or not you approve of how either of these presidents acted in office, or even of those in between, we must all agree on one thing: the dialogue for mental health must occur within our society. We need to discuss it, research it, learn about it. We need to destroy the stigmas, stereotypes, and taboos. We must do something to assist our society in understanding the complexities which come along with a mental health diagnosis. As Ms. Sebelius so graciously stated, "now is the time to work together to banish those fears and bring mental health out of the shadows once and for all."

Check out the article. Do your own research. Ask your own questions and be mindful of your own judgments on the topic. The more open our dialogue about mental health the more likely we're able to get it out of the shadows.