Panel: Having ‘uncomfortable’ conversation could save a life
Oct 3, 2019 at 9:40 pm
Executive Director of #NAMI Iowa Peggy Huppert responds Thursday to a question from the audience during the #mentalhealth in young professionals session of The Gazette’s Iowa Ideas symposium in downtown Cedar Rapids.
CEDAR RAPIDS — #Stigma surrounds #mentalhealth because nobody is taught how to handle sadness and pain and the resources are difficult to access. But people sharing their experiences is the only way to bring about change and help those suffering.
Speaking Thursday at The Gazette’s Iowa Ideas symposium, Mary Neubauer said the discussion about #mentalhealth and #suicide may be “uncomfortable,” but the lack of resources in Iowa pushed her to talk about “my inspiration” — her 18-year-old son, Sergei, who died by #suicide in 2017.
Sergei was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, major #depression and severe #anxiety, which stemmed from his “tumultuous” childhood in Russia. Neubauer and her husband adopted him in 2009.
Neubauer, who fought for the #mentalhealth reform bill and now serves on the State Children’s #MentalHealth System Board, said young professionals are in the age group that begins experiencing #depression, #stress and #anxiety because they are leaving an environment that had brought people together — school and social activities.
Her son was moving in that direction and didn’t know what to do or how to handle it, she said.
“Those isolating moments feed #depression and #loneliness,” Neubauer said.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Half of all chronic #mentalillness begins by age 14 and three-quarters by 24, according to #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention statistics. One in five adults in America experiences a #mentalillness, and #depression is the No. 1 cause of disability worldwide, the statistics show.
Iowa Ideas panel member Peggy Huppert, executive director of the state chapter of #NationalAllianceonMentalHealth — #NAMI Iowa — said two of her daughters have #anxiety and #depression and the top challenge is getting past the #stigma to access care.
As an example of the #stigma and her “wake up call,” Huppert cited discussion at a public meeting over building a psychiatric facility — the Clive Behavioral Hospital. Several people were upset about this kind of hospital coming to town. Some even thought their children would be abducted by the patients.
More education is needed on #mentalhealth, said Mary Thompson, panelist and chief executive officer of the Clive Behavioral Hospital.
People don’t know about resources and what steps to take when dealing with #mentalissues. The young professionals age group ranks the highest for having #suicidal thoughts.
Panel members agreed that #socialmedia has seemed to have a mostly negative influence on young peoples’ #mentalhealth. Many individuals try to compare their lives with others on #socialmedia who portray “great lives” and don’t seem to struggle — except that’s usually not real life.
The overwhelming problem may be that nobody has been taught to identify sadness and #anxiety, panelists said. Or people push it away and say “We’re tough — we can handle it.”
Panelist Tammy Hoyman, chief executive of the Employee & Family Resources nonprofit in Des Moines, said the average person isn’t a trained #mentalhealthprofessional — but doesn’t have to be.
If a friend, co-worker or employee is struggling, ask him or her to lunch or say, “You seem quiet or tired. Is everything OK.”
To help, know these warning signs:
• Feeling sad or withdrawn for over two weeks
• Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans
• Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
• Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits
Then, share concerns:
• Start the conversation
• Assure the individual he or she is not alone
• Be understanding, caring and non-judgmental.
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