A Call for Stories for HA’s Upcoming Mental Health Awareness Series
By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator
Mental health is a fundamentally important part of our daily lives. It is as important — and as natural — as any other type of health like dental or physical health.
But when we are mentally unhealthy, we are often afraid to talk about it.
We can feel ashamed. Embarrassed. Terrified of what others might think. Alienated. “Crazy.”
Mental illnesses are real, live medical conditions that mess with a person’s feelings, mood, thoughts, ability to relate to other people, and other aspects of daily functioning that everyone else takes for granted. They can be very serious conditions: ranging from major depression to bipolar disorder, from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to panic attacks; from severe anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Here are some facts about mental illness and recovery from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness):
- Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.
- 1 in 17 Americans live with a serious mental illness.
- One in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
- 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.
- The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders.
- By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
- Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood.
- Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives.
- The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
- With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence.
- Early identification and treatment is of vital importance.
- Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions.
Children of Christian homeschool families are not immune to mental illnesses or disorders. Just like any other human beings, we can struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and any other number of issues. In fact, the highly controlling and toxic environments that some of us grew up in can exacerbate or even create mental illness. Experiencing abuse as a child can actually prime one’s brain for future mental illness, prompting a writer for TIME Magazine to observe the following:
Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.
While there is a stigma around taking about mental health in our larger culture, that stigma is even more pronounced within the Christian homeschool movement. There can even be scientifically invalid information being propagated, labeling mental illness as something strictly spiritual (or worse, “demonic”) that does not necessitate medical or therapeutic treatments.
We need to break this stigma around mental illness. We need to speak out, both as adult graduates of the Christian homeschool movement and as human beings.
If you are interested in contributing, here are some ideas for what you could write about:
1) Your personal story of struggling with mental illness
2) Your personal story of being a friend to someone struggling
3) Your thoughts on the relationship between your homeschooling experience and mental health and/or illness
4) Your advice, as someone who personally struggles with mental illness, to other homeschool kids who are currently struggling
5) Practices, techniques, etc. that you have found helpful for managing your mental illness
6) Your advice, as a parent to a kid who personally struggles with self-injury, to other parents who have a kid currently struggling
You do not have to pick just one topic. You could combine several of these ideas, or bring your own ideas to the table, or — if you have a lot to say — contribute several pieces on a variety of these topics. The deadline for submission is Sunday, October 13.
As always, you can contribute anonymously or publicly.
If you interested in participating in this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.