By Deana M. Newman
In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, it is important to not only reflect on the precious gift of life, but extremely vital to concentrate on the mental health status of friends, family and ourselves. The mind is a powerful regulator of everyday thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors and must be kept healthy. As reported within The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America (2006) about one in four American adults aged 18 years and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. However, many suffer from more than one mental disorder at a time, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Schizophrenia, Antisocial Personality, and Depression to name a few.
Research sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health has reported that half of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 years. Regardless of available and effective treatments, many cases are not introduced to a professional until decades after the first onset of symptoms, leaving untreated disorders to become severe and untreatable. There are still missing pieces of the complex puzzle to explain and understand the “Why’s?” and “How’s?” “There is a need for earlier intervention to diagnosis and treat ailing individuals when their young. Unfortunately, many times social-stigma plays a role in choosing “band-aid” solutions instead of full-treatment” said Michele Oliver an Applied Experimental Psychology Doctoral Candidate at Central Michigan University. Increased public awareness through campaigns, public policy, and professional health communicators may alleviate the issue.
Mental health is fundamental to overall health and productivity in familial, community and social relationships. Cho Seung-Hui may have ignored many and isolated himself from society; however, in an effort to avoid additional tragic occurrences, society must not ignore others like him who desperately need guidance and assistance but lack the ability to express their needs. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, visit www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/state_orgs.htm for a list of available mental health organizations by state or check with your local Department of
Deana Newman is currently a Cardiovascular Perfusionist at Sparrow Hospital and a Master’s candidate in Health Communications at Michigan State University.