Enough is enough. Enough has cost people their livelihoods, their family relationships, and in many cases, their very own lives.
What is it going to take to get people to wake up? More suicides? More mental disabilities resulting in our government spending more and more for work loss productivity? More over-crowding of prisons? More homelessness? More substance abuse? More physical conditions – such as heart disease, obesity, asthma – where stress can be a contributing factor?
The list goes on and on, yet our funding for research into mental health diseases and suicide continues to lag way behind that of other diseases and conditions. My question has been, Why? Also, why do so many people seem to be hesitant about finding the biological factors involved in mental health disease, in particular, the genetic component?
Many of us still want to bury our heads in the sand, as if to say, “Oh, my family doesn’t have any mental health issues. And I certainly don’t.” Well, in many of these cases, this is simply not the truth. So why wouldn’t we want to find the answers?
It occurred to me one day that while the stigma attached to mental health conditions is a reason, it’s not the only one.
Don’t get me wrong. Stigma is a huge problem.
However, another motivator occurred to me; one that is far more powerful than even stigma.
This is fear. Fear that when/if we find that biological reasons (including genetics) are indeed a major component of our mental health disorders, we’ll have to admit that we, our loved ones, and most of all, our children may be genetically predisposed. This is frightening. It’s much easier to tell ourselves that mental health disorders are not really brain diseases, but disorders based on only environmental causes. We have a recipe for dealing with this – our current medications and therapies. This recipe is far from perfect, but a recipe nonetheless.
I’ll have to admit that it is pretty scary, being that we don’t have all of the answers at this time to treat these diseases. However, with our current research, we are in far better shape than we were even five years ago. And through research, we are getting closer to finding the answers to genetic predispositions and, in turn, finding effective treatments and cures.
Instead of being frightened of how genetics plays into the mental health equation, I think we should welcome it with open arms. This takes courage.
Just imagine if we could have blood tests to determine the predisposition of mental health conditions. We could target them at an early age and treat them before they are able to advance to serious levels. And while continuing our research for possible cures, we could educate those who are predisposed to these conditions in effective coping strategies. This knowledge is empowering. This knowledge gives hope.
We can’t go back and change the precious time that has been lost for this much needed research, but we can do something now. Please join forces with our group to advocate for funding into genetic research, and to finally end this war on mental health disease. We, and our loved ones, are worth it.
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So, what motivates You? We need your input. Together, we can help to end the war on mental health disease!