The rise of #COVID-19 has understandably refocused our attention on health care access and inequities. One component that hasn’t gotten as much attention, but should, is access to #mentalhealthcare. We’re in a moment where more of us than ever before could benefit from having an established relationship with a qualified provider.
Although we have seen sustained success in the fields of #mentalhealthcare, counseling and addiction services in recent decades — from gains in medicine to a more aware and understanding public — the statistics are clear that this is not enough.
Indeed, two of the main drivers behind reports showing life expectancy is declining in the #UnitedStates are the rising rates of drug addiction and #suicide. The public has a good understanding of the importance of addressing the former, but comparatively less attention is given to how to spot and then stop someone from taking his or her life.
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
To understand suicide’s sizable scope, consider that its number here in the #UnitedStates is four times higher than those murdered and a third larger than those killed in traffic accidents. #Suicide rates are highest among adults between 45 and 64, and those with substance abuse disorders are six times more likely to commit #suicide than those without, according to #MentalHealthAmerica. Worldwide, there are 800,000 suicides a year, or an average of one every 40 seconds.
I learned from an early age how much of a difference it makes when someone in crisis gets the care they need. My dad worked as an addiction specialist and had his office on the ground floor of our home. There were many times that I saw him open the door for clients who were struggling to survive, and there is no telling how many lives he and his friends in the field saved.Get the #Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.
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I will never forget the example he set, and it is one of the reasons why I proudly serve as a board member for #MentalHealth America of Kentucky and why improving access to #mentalhealth and addiction services across Kentucky is so important to me as a state legislator.
To further that goal, I am sponsoring legislation that would make what I think is a long-overdue change. I chose to announce it Sept. 10 to coincide with #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and #SuicidePreventionAwarenessMonth for our country.
In short, my bill calls for comprehensive health insurance plans to include an annual preventative #mentalhealth checkup.
Just as we understand the importance of monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol and regularly visiting the dentist and eye doctor, we should check on our #mentalhealth in the same way.
If we want to prioritize #mentalhealth and well-being for all Kentuckians, we’re going to have to do more than we have done. There may be no single answer to get us to that destination, but my bill undoubtedly would move us in the right direction.
If you or someone you know is at risk of committing #suicide, please do not hesitate to act. The #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline is available 24 hours a day and can be reached at 800-273-8255. If it is an immediate emergency, please call 911.
Rachel Roberts, a Democrat, is a Kentucky representative for District 67.