An article written by Doha Madani, a reporter for NBC News, caught my eye early this morning.
It sparked a light in my mind and reminded me that even the worlds toughest people cannot handle the mental health battles that they face on a daily basis.
Madani quoted Commissioner James O'Neill,
"To every member of the NYPD, please know this: it is okay to feel vulnerable," O'Neill said in a statement Saturday. "It is okay if you are facing struggles. And it is okay to seek help from others. You may not know this, and it may be hard to imagine, but you are not out there all by yourself."
This rings true for not only police officers, but every single person reading this.
As stated in the article, these happenings have been deemed a "mental health crisis," but this crisis is taking place everywhere.
It is far bigger than the NYPD.
Headlines all over the world are covering this, but it seems as if no one is paying true attention to the crisis itself.
Policeone.com headline says "Report: More cops died by suicide than in line of duty in 2018."
"HOW COMMON ARE SUICIDES IN COLLEGE ATHLETES?" by Dr. David Geier says that 477 student athletes died over a 9 year period. 7.3% of those deaths were by suicide.
The Daily Dayton News posted "Study finds staggering suicide rate for construction workers." This article states that the suicide rate for male construction workers is four times higher than the average overall suicide rate.
Marine Corps Times posted an article "The Corps' suicide rate is at a 10-year high. This is how the Marines plan to address it." The headline says it loud and clear.
Those headlines represent a very small portion of the mental health epidemic we are facing.
Mental health needs attention, it is as serious as any physical illness you could have.
If you have a broken arm, you are not able to do labor work. If you break your ankle, you can not fulfill the work of a waitress or a nurse.
The same thing applies to mental illness.
If you are fighting a battle within yourself every single day, you cannot properly function at work. If you are having anxiety, you cannot fill your usual potential in everyday life. If you have a mental illness, it is just as bad as snapping your ankle- except a simple cast doesn't fix it.
The hard to swallow pill about all of this is... you have to get help. You have to seek help or go to the doctor just like you would for a broken arm or ankle. You have to seek help just like you would if you had a cold you could not get rid of.
It's up to you to go to a doctor or a therapist. It isn't your employers job, your spouses job, or your friends job.
Often times it's difficult to get yourself into a doctor or counselor, but you are the only person that can help yourself.
The biggest issue with mental health is that people think they have a mental illness, but they are afraid to speak up about it. They believe they are crazy and they do not want to be singled out because of something like anxiety, depression, PTSD, or any other mental illness.
This is the social standard we need to break.
You wouldn't single one of your friends out for having a broken arm and canceling dinner plans because it was sore, would you? The same concept should apply to having friends with depression or anxiety.
However, this doesn't give you an excuse to be a bad friend, speaking in terms of the person with mental illness. This gives you a reason to get help, build better relationships, and a stronger character.
With that being said, employers; be understanding. Friends; sometimes your friend(s) just need an open ear. Parents; it's a real thing, start treating it that way. Spouses/significant others; do not start relationships with people that have a mental illness if you cannot understand it, or learn to understand it and contribute to the healing process.
Your mental health could determine what the rest of your life will be like. As referenced before, you couldn't go through everyday life with a newly broken arm. It would be too painful and difficult to deal with.
Be there for your friends. Be there for yourself. Be there for the future. We are all here to help you, and we are all on your side. You can do this.