To Neil Hilborn's Poem "Joey" For Spreading Mental Illness And Poverty Awareness
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To Neil Hilborn's Poem "Joey" For Spreading Mental Illness And Poverty Awareness

"He wanted to kill himself but it was never the right time..."

To Neil Hilborn's Poem "Joey" For Spreading Mental Illness And Poverty Awareness

This is going to get a little deep, hope you don't mind. I love poetry and one of my favorites is Neil Hilborn's poem, "Joey". If you haven't heard of it, give it a listen right now. It's a truly powerful and emotional poem of a childhood friend of Hilborn's called Joey. In summary, both Joey and Neil suffered from mental illness, but Neil's family could pay for treatment and therapy while Joey's couldn't.

"Joey" has been a sort of the topic of debate, some questioning whether Joey is just a character or a real childhood friend. He is real. I know him. Joey lived in my neighborhood. I could see him everywhere and we'd all hang out together. Joey is me and all my friends who were of a low socioeconomic status.

I've had friends attempt suicide, self-harm, who definitely are struggling with mental illness. They're not alone because I am with them and vice versa. People send out suicide hotlines every time a celebrity dies, but it's not that simple. A hotline won't save suffering people. There are many reasons why people don't seek treatment from stigma to lack of trust in the system, but one of the main cause is the cost.

In the state I grew up in, the law set in place is if someone shows any sign of potential suicidal or self harm, they will be sent to a hospital under 24 hour watch for a length of time. A friend of mine *Jean confessed to attempting suicide instead of therapy, she was put on a hospital hold for 72 hours for depression. She is stuck with an expensive hospital bill that most insurance companies don't cover. She's just another story among the number of people who want help, but because they don't want to be charged for someone saying "you've got something wrong with you."

Jean no longer trusts telling anyone when she's feeling like she doesn't deserve to be in this world anymore. I know I'm not okay, but how will I pay for school if I have to pay the cost for each therapy session.

"Joey" is an outcry for all those who can't get help, even if they wanted or had others who support and acknowledge them. I was overwhelmed when it went viral because it's a problem people often overlook. Besides, the anxiety of opening up to someone and hoping they don't immediately start distancing themselves away from you or tell you they get sad too sometimes and to just "deal with it" like the callous response Neil gave Joey when talking about his illness around others, there's the flipside of them knowing and believing you, but saying, "Sorry, call a hotline if it gets bad." This isn't a problem that's easy to fix, but "Joey" is spreading awareness that is desperately needed.

* Name changed for privacy

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