ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Our Opinion: Opening our eyes to mental health issues

We hope the Brainerd Dispatch's four-day series on suicide awareness and prevention, which concluded Wednesday, was as eye-opening for our readers as it was for us.

We hope the Brainerd Dispatch's four-day series on suicide awareness and prevention, which concluded Wednesday, was as eye-opening for our readers as it was for us.

Mental illness is pervasive within our communities, and in some cases can end in tragedy. Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of background, income or social standing. It's time to pay more than just lip service to these issues; we need to have serious and open discussions about them.

We also hope the series will encourage those suffering and those whose loved ones are suffering to seek help. Not saying something is not an option. Not any more, with everything that's happened locally and nationally that, in some cases at least partially, can be attributed to mental illness allowed to fester unchecked.

We also need to turn to our elected representatives at local, state and national levels and demand more be done. The sad truth is we are not putting enough resources into helping people suffering from mental illness. In fact, the resources are dwindling. One need to look no further than stats the Brainerd School District released that showed at Forestview Middle School there is one counselor for every 667 students. In the entire school district, there is one counselor for every 963 students.

Recognizing mental illness is not a new issue, but for years has been talked about only in hushed tones or swept under the rug altogether-out of sight out of mind. Despite the stigma attached to mental illness, the issue isn't going away.

ADVERTISEMENT

And in recent years, it's reached what some are calling a crisis, one of our own making. The state closed regional human service centers-like the one in Brainerd-to develop smaller, community-based behavioral health hospitals, which can't meet the mental health needs of the community even when at capacity. Patients not able to get into one of the local community hospitals are instead held at larger state treatment centers, in some cases causing local taxpayers to pay thousands of dollars a day for care.

It's beyond time for us-all of us, from family members, to members of the community, to elected officials-to do something, anything. It could be as small as talking to a loved one a concern, to opening up to others about your pain, to finding more funding to help those suffering from mental illness. Pretending the issue is not a problem only hurts us all.

Help is there for those who seek it. For those struggling with a mental health issue, talk to friends, talk to family members or talk to co-workers. Talk to parents, talk to your teachers, or counselors or the school liaison officer. The Crisis Line and Referral Service is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week by simply calling 218-828-HELP (4357) or 800-462-5525.

Related Topics: BRAINERD DISPATCH
What To Read Next
“Missing” is a new mystery or thriller about a single mom who disappears on a romantic vacation with her boyfriend. It’s up to her 18-year-old digital-savvy daughter to find out what really happened.
Based on the international bestselling book, “A Man Called Otto” starring Tom Hanks is the English language remake of the 2015 Swedish film “A Man Called Ove."
The regents and presidents of the University of Minnesota have increasingly been moving more and more assets away from struggling students and into the pockets of overpaid administrators.
“M3GAN” is a new sci-fi horror movie that riffs on the evil doll Chucky. Created to be a child’s faithful companion, the childlike girl doll M3GAN is violently overprotective.