From Our Team
Posted on September 5, 2017 by Enrique Mata
My daughter and I recently watched the 2017 Video Music Awards (VMA). We were touched by the performance that Logic, Alessia Cara and El Paso’s Khalid gave from the song ‘1-800-273-8255,’ which raises awareness for suicide prevention.
Kesha, an American singer, songwriter and rapper, introduced the performance making her own statement of support saying, “Whatever you are going through, however dark it may seem, there is an undeniable truth and strength in the fact that you are not alone. We all have struggles, and as long as you never give up on yourself, light will break through the darkness.”
Seeing these brave young artists helping to bring mental illness out of the shadows is inspiring and powerful. But as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben stated, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
As mental illness comes out of the shadows, we as parents, mentors, citizens, and community leaders must be vigilant and prepared to guide individuals at risk or in crisis to services and support systems that will help prevent tragic outcomes such as suicide. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24.
There is a lot to learn about how to prevent suicide. Some of the community strategies recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) include:
- Increasing help-seeking - Teaching people to recognize when they need support—and helping them to find it.
- Ensuring access to effective mental health treatment - ensuring that individuals at risk have timely access to evidence-based treatments and coordinated systems of care.
- Supporting safe care transitions and creating organizational linkages - Assuring individuals and families in need have an uninterrupted transition of care and timely exchange of information among individuals and organizations that contribute to their care.
- Responding effectively to individuals in crisis - A full continuum of care includes not only hotlines and helplines but also mobile crisis teams, walk-in crisis clinics, hospital-based psychiatric emergency services, and peer-support programs.
These strategies are not easily implemented with challenges such as provider shortages. In El Paso County, the El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium is working to improve collaboration among available service providers, community organizations and family support systems. Their efforts are consistent with SAMHSA recommendations.
Take time to learn about the warning signs of mental illness. These warning signs may include individuals talking about wanting to hurt themselves, increasing substance use, and changes in mood, diet, or sleeping patterns. When these warning signs appear, they should be taken seriously and professional help from a physician or mental health professional should be sought. This responsibility to help can seem overwhelming and frightening, but there are national, state and local resources available. Each person can do their part. When individuals share with you that they are in recovery from a mental illness or addiction, meet them with support and acceptance.
Just as the brave young artists at VMA want to show through their music, we can all do our best to lend a helping hand and show that none of us is truly alone.
To learn more about mental illness treatment and support services:
Emergence Health Network Crisis Line: (915) 779-1800 www.emergencehealthnetwork.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness - El Paso (915) 778-5726 http://namiep.org/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -1-800-273-8255 - http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Veterans Crisis Line - (800) 273-8255, Press 1
Crisis Text Line – Text – 741741
U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] (800) 662- 4357 http://www.samhsa.gov/
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