By Jeff Emmerson | CONTRIBUTOR |
Get used to the term “Mental Health Awareness.” Get used to the idea that in some way, shape or form, ALL of us are impacted by mental health (and illness).
The Next Frontier: Mental Health in Society (for many reasons)
I heavily believe (and see it coming) that factors such as industry, parenting, technology, nutrition, education and healthcare are a few of the major contributing factors for issues where mental health is concerned.
“ The million dollar question is this: How do we collectively evolve to meet the challenges of societal wellness and treatment?”
I can tell you where we start: By being open to tackling the underlying causes of mental distress in their various forms with open, curious minds and with empathy in a climate of support for people from all walks of life. We also evolve as a result of people speaking openly, daringly and vulnerably – folks with large online followings and folks (again) from all walks of life. This isn’t simply an issue with celebrities (given today’s news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide and fashion designer Kate Spade’s suicide this week as well). Mental health affects ALL of us in some way, shape or form.
Movements Take Time to Go Global
The more I think of it, the more I realize that there’s a painstaking process to getting mental health evolution to the world, brick by brick, year by year. It takes way more than governments, too – innovators, disruptors and entrepreneurs need to find ways to bring change forth by creating audiences and getting attention from those receptive to it (a steadily increasing number of people including a majority of the younger generation coming into adulthood currently). When we think back to slavery or a woman’s right to vote, those movements took a lot of time, sacrifice and audacity to bring to the forefront. From where I sit, it’s similar with mental health awareness and empathy.
The Courage to Speak Out
“ I was afraid at first, facing an emergency room nurse and having to explain that as a man I was “suicidal.”
You see, I was newly married, feeling like a failure and would rather have ended my life than faced the truth: I needed some fucking help! Jesus, the vicious cycle of self-hate and frustration had to come to a fucking end (pardon my language here, but I needed to express just how severe it was).
It wasn’t a “pretty” road to getting help, and frankly, I’m lucky to be here, doing what I am today. That’s why you’re going to see me rise as someone on a mission toward building global alliances and screaming from the rooftops that we need to own our stuff and speak up – speak the hell up. Nearly 50,000 suicides in the U.S. alone each year (according to the CDC) is NOT acceptable – the true number of people impacted by those deaths is much, much higher! Loved ones, friends and others who knew each of those human beings are forever impacted in some way, shape or form.
“ These symptoms and challenges are already all around you, whether you know it or not (if you live near anyone else).”
It doesn’t have to be scary – through support, open minds, education, empathy and understanding, we can push forward in mental health evolution that is holistic, thorough and rooted in society’s framework, from early childhood education to on the corporate side, at home with parents and in our communities.
We can do better, and we must. Yes, we can thrive as a society by actually investing in collective well-being. Do I have all the answers on how that can best be accomplished? No, but I’m on a mission to connect the dots and bring this dialogue to the forefront by building the world’s largest platform around mental health as a single person, and much more than that is in the works as well. After all, I am only that: One person with one set of strengths and abilities. This is so much bigger than me, I realize.
“ Brick by brick, we will not be denied. We must advocate for ourselves and the future. You have a foot soldier of support here in me. Never, ever forget that.“
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About the Author: Jeff Emmerson – Contributor
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Jeff began speaking publicly to raise awareness of mental health awareness and ADHD in 2013, following a suicide attempt and resulting ADHD diagnosis. (Two years earlier, his brother Ryan killed himself). In 2013, after committing himself to the locked psych ward of his local hospital for 2 weeks due to again researching ways to end his life, Jeff took to social media channels and began blogging to reach an even larger audience — at which time he began reworking an old manuscript he had written about his life. Jeff seeks to support, empower, inspire and motivate people from all walks of life, regardless of any diagnoses they may have.From the depths of mental despair to becoming one of social media’s premier spokespeople for mental health issues, Jeff Emmerson is a veritable “Rocky” in the field. Jeff has written for and been interviewed by some of the world’s top radio hosts and online magazines regarding mental health, suicide prevention, anxiety, depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), including Everyday Health (featured on AOL Health) and Additudemag.