Monthly Archives: September 2014

Crazy Climate Change

Does the increase of mental illness correlate to the increase of sea levels?

Does the increased rates of floods and droughts have anything to do with the increased rates of depression and suicide?

Does the depletion of forests and natural habitats have anything to do with the depletion of our collective mental health?

As thousands march in New York City for the People’s Climate March to call world leaders accountable for our role in climate change, another crisis looms in the shadows, the mental health crisis.

And this crisis of climate change is interconnected with this crisis of mental health. One of the thought leaders in this realm is Richard Louv, the author of the groundbreaking book, The Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

Louv analyzes how children’s infrequent exposure to healthy natural environments contributes to the rising numbers of children diagnosed with mental illness.

Louv writes:

Yet at the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical, and spiritual health directly to our association with nature–in positive ways.

There are many reasons we need to take serious measures to slow down climate change. Our current way of life on planet Earth is unsustainable. We cannot ignore climate change anymore.

Research confirms that the Earth can play a critical role in preventing, treating, and recovering from mental illness. If we don’t do something now to heal the planet, then this crazy climate change is going to make us all crazy.

The Pain Without a Name

We didn’t know. We never knew what to call it. We didn’t have a diagnosis then.

If you had a mood disorder before the 21st century, it was understood and treated within limitations based on the research, knowledge and resources available at that time.

What is more likely is that the brain disease wasn’t diagnosed or treated at all. It was common then, as now, for people with mental illness to not seek help or treatment.

I’m hearing this from my readers, people like me who know what it’s like to grow up with mental illness in the home. For a lot of us growing up, for various reasons, the people we loved weren’t getting the mental health care they needed and deserved.

Our loved ones were misdiagnosed, over-medicated, dismissed, couldn’t afford help or refused treatment.

This left us as children pretty much in the deep pit of the unknown. We didn’t know why moods shifted so rapidly or why a parent couldn’t work or even get out of bed or drank too much or committed suicide.

We didn’t understand that a parent withholding love or affection was a result of an untreated mental illness, and not, as many of us felt, a reflection of our own self worth. I tell the story in my book about how this was so hard for me to understand as a little girl.

That was then.

This is now.

Now we know.

We know that mental illness is a real disease of the brain.

We know that prevention, treatment and recovery are options.

We know there is hope.

And we know we are never going back.

We are never going back to the silence, stigma and shame.

For a better future for the children of today and tomorrow, we are breaking the silence about mental illness now.

This is a new day.

We are naming it out loud. We are understanding the causes and the treatments. We are getting evaluated. We are getting the help we need.

Too many people are suffering silently from a pain with no name.

We can change this by offering accessible support and advocating for mental health education in the public schools, and funding mental health screenings. Early detection and treatment of mental illness can prevent severe brain diseases and suicide.

It’s up to each one of us to name mental illness and by so doing, to rid it of the immobilizing shame, stigma and silence.

It’s up to us to mobilize a movement for mental health.

If not you, then who?

If not now, then when?