Over the course of the past week, two friends shared their experiences of coping with - or helping a love one cope with - depression. Those who follow my personal FB page know that I, too, have struggled with this very common and very treatable medical condition. Mental health issues are far from rare: according to NAMI, one in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year.
I am fortunate to have affordable health insurance that allows access to the resources I need to successfully manage this condition and live my fullest life possible. There are two different but equally critical reasons why I share this:
- We must start eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. A better understanding of what mental illness is, what causes it and how it can be treated is a good place to start. Make It Ok is an incredible resource that provides facts around mental illness, personal stories and a common language we can all use.
- Healthcare in this country should not be a privilege available only to the few. Our vigilance must be heightened right now, as our path to healthcare for all is under siege by this current administration,our vigilance must be heightened. I find it unconscionable that any medical condition - mental or physical - can bankrupt the average family.
There are political reasons why sharing this is a bad idea. My core values compel me to stand and speak my truth and call for common sense in health care access:
- Too many young people carry the stress of all that is going on in their own lives as well as the effects of what is occurring in our country and in our world. According to NAMI, half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14; 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. That is why, as a school board member. I have advocated for increased access to mental health support. For the health and well-being of our future generations, we must start talking about mental health not as a scourge but as a manageable condition.
- I want Minnesotans to have a quality of life that allows us to care and provide for ourselves and our loved ones. Supportive services for Minnesotans struggling with mental health is something I will continue to fight for when I am elected.