During one of my recent speaking engagements in Chicago, I was asked what I consider to be my greatest accomplishments. These two topped the list:
- Getting sober and overcoming my addictions to alcohol, binging and purging, and cutting. These developed in me compassion rather than judgment for others who suffer from addictions.
- Earning three degrees in education. I carried a quiver full of common sense, experience and determination to help children in trouble, sensing when they were suffering.
My new book, Where the Water Meets the Sand, is creating opportunities to add a third accomplishment to that list: reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and opening doors to resources for support and treatment.
I am grateful to be able to help change the culture of mental health in America. I often cite First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the Joining Forces initiative and her public service announcement for the Campaign to Change Direction: “So it is really time to flip the script on mental health in this country. It’s time. It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength.”
Mrs. Obama’s tireless commitment to this mission has brought comfort and confidence to countless numbers. I am proud to share this calling with her.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Let that be your reason for taking one simple step toward helping change the way the world sees mental health. Join the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s campaign to turn stigma into hope. https://www.nami.org/stigmafree#pledge
From NAMI’s website: “Promote acceptance and actively challenge social stereotypes. Through powerful words and actions, we will shift the social and systemic barriers for those living with mental health conditions and encourage acceptance and understanding. Individuals, companies, organizations and others can all take the pledge to learn more about mental illness, to see a person for who they are and take action on mental health issues. Take the pledge and raise awareness.”