The New York Times reports, "The sword of Damocles turns out to be made of Styrofoam." But the sword feels much sharper for families, advocates, and local officials who rely on government funding to treat and care for those with mental illness.
I have been on drugs for about six years, give or take. Prozac and Buspiron. Prozac for depression and Buspiron for its evil twin sister, anxiety. There were others, too. I can't remember how I got started on them -- well, we can surmise I was depressed.
In mental health, we need to be wary of short-term, reactive "fixes" stimulated by agonizing events that may have emotional appeal but are no substitute for an ongoing resolve to apply proven means of systematically improving care and accountability.
When it comes to mental illness, we need more tolerance, empathy and compassion. We need to remove the barriers to help, and remember that if it were our family member or friend who had such problems, we would view things with a lot more compassion.
With all of the incredible advances in care for mental illness, there is a huge roadblock between people and the treatment they need: the stigma and shame that pervade our culture regarding mental illness.
Part of the solution should be acknowledging that mental illness in the form of suicidal behavior can be brought about or exacerbated by the rigors of military service. When this results in the death of one of our soldiers, their loved ones deserve our sympathy and understanding.