Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity At Work in London Inc, Author of Diversity and Inclusion: On A Budget
Growing up with a parent who suffered from a severe mental illness wasn’t easy. My mother wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her fifties. Sadly, the best parts of her life were lost to an illness that robbed her of what could have been her most joyous moments like the birth of her children and grandchildren. Despite her daily battles with depression, anxiety, hallucinations, language barriers and poverty — somehow we all survived. Recognizing that she could no longer work with groups of people, my mother built a small solo cleaning business where she could carve out a meager income to support her family. Who would ever think that with so much going against her that she could maintained a business? But proudly, I can attest that she did!
Our national awareness campaign about mental illness reminds us that we can make a difference in someone’s mental health and I agree. Along the way, there could have been many opportunities for people to have reached out to someone like my mom who was alone and struggling with two children – but they did not. Maybe they didn’t want to pry or perhaps they were scared. Or worse yet, “too busy” to care.
Each day there are people around us who suffer silently or openly. Some have paid professionals helping them out and others have no one. There will be those whose only interventions come from a professional, never hearing the kind gentle words of a friend, family member or even a stranger.
Have you ever been through a rough emotional time when the support of friends or family really made a difference in how you came through? Sometimes people don’t get better because they have no one that shows them that they care.
Helping people who are mentally ill is not just the responsibility of professionals but communities and individuals as well. Mental illness is all around us, but sometimes we want to turn a blind eye. It can look like:
The woman who started drinking after her husband left her.
The student who is getting panic attacks before his exams.
The new mom who can’t stop crying and doesn’t know why.
The dad who lost his job and can’t get out of bed because he feels so devastated.
It is also:
The veteran who has the pent-up anger from the battleground.
The child who slashes himself to release the pain.
The teacher who hears voices telling her that she is an evil person.
If you know someone who is in these circumstances and you haven’t reached out, now may be the time to do so. We cannot leave everything to professionals, but individuals living in caring communities can make a difference in someone’s recovery.
Don’t you think so?
Let’s start the conversation.
I would like to hear your comments.
If you have a mental illness and are reading this blog, what suggestions would you have for others to reach out to you? Please leave your comments.
If you reached out to someone today, who is affected by mental illness. Tell us about it and how you felt.