This past April I had a chance to attend the National Council for Behavioral Health conference. As I reflected over the next couple weeks on how Independence Center will have to grow and evolve to continue serving a marginalized population, I realize now more than ever it’s the time to declare war on mental illness.
We often discuss the importance of having or starting the conversation around behavioral health with the belief that it gives people a chance to step out from behind the stigma. It’s become vehemently apparent that the conversation needs artillery. The battle I have to prepare for is the fragile and twisted world of funding. The war was declared on cancer 50 years ago and billions of dollars have poured into research and services, but only a fraction of that has been spent on mental health. If you were sitting in my chair, you would see it’s all too easy for current national leadership to hide behind stigma and cut crucial funding that saves lives every day.
World Health Organization reports that approximately one million people die from suicide each year worldwide – that is about 1 death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempt. The World Economic Forum estimates mental health disorders will be the largest cost driver in non-communicable diseases and reach $6 trillion by 2030.
In any type of war, you can’t win if you don’t have the resources, but our Government is choosing not to invest in this war. They are pulling back funding, not just for mental health, but for all areas. The larger health issue is that people living with a chronic mental illness are also highly vulnerable for diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cholesterol, and other physical health conditions.
While I am and will always be eternally grateful for your financial support because your gifts equip an infantry of resources, I am asking that you help lead the charge in continuing the conversation. Suicide, prison and emergency rooms cannot be the answer for mental illness. You can help by inviting Independence Center members to speak at your place of work or community. Take the Mental Health First-Aid course offered by our behavioral health partners. Please continue to include Independence Center in your annual giving. Or if you already gave, check out how your dollars are being used and please consider us in the future. Independence Center is committed to stand as a beacon in defending chronic mental illness and comprehensive healthcare for now and the future.
Will you stand with us?