World Mental Health Day: Mental Illness Deserves Compassion

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Attendees held green flags above their head in support of remembering those who suffer from mental illness. World Mental Health Day.

Clouds parted at Main Plaza on Friday as a sea of people in green flooded the courtyard in front of the San Fernando Cathedral in support of World Mental Health Day.

Bexar County hosted a resource fair at the plaza where staff and volunteers wearing green T-shirts handed out brochures and flyers to attendees, intending to educate people about mental illness and the negative stigmas attached to those who suffer from the conditions.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the groups with a booth at the resource fair, one in five adults, or about 43.7 million people, in the United States suffer from mental illness in a given year. Of those people, 41% received mental health services in the past year, however African Americans and Latinos used mental health services at about one-half the rate of their white counterparts. Those living with mental illness are at an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions, and adults living with serious mental illness, about one in 25 people, die about 25 years earlier than those without a mental illness.

San Antonio, “Military City USA,” is home to a significant number of military personnel, their families, and veterans. Each day, an estimated 18-22 veterans commit suicide, many of whom suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Prect. 4) hopes to become more of an influential figure for those suffering from mental illness, especially for minorities who make up 76% of Bexar County.

County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Prect. 4)  spoke about mental illness at Main Plaza. Photo by Joan Vinson.

County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Prect. 4) spoke about mental illness at Main Plaza. Photo by Joan Vinson.

“These problems are partially due to a lack of insurance coverage, a tendency to attribute mental health problems to religious beliefs, and a general lack of access to receptive and culturally compatible providers,” Calvert said.

Many people who suffer from mental illness are ashamed of their condition, which keeps them from reaching out for help. World Mental Health Day aims to reduce the shame behind mental illness, and instead treat it as any other disease like diabetes or cancer.

“(Negative stigmas) create discrimination in jobs, education, housing, and even medical care,” Calvert said, adding that those with mental health problems are one of the most socially excluded groups.

In May, Bexar County purchased 51.5 acres of land adjacent to Randolph Air Force Base for $3.4 million. Calvert plans to open a mental health facility on that plot of land at 1604 and Rocket Lane.

“Many of the current mental health centers are at capacity with the amount of patients they can see on a daily basis,” he said.

The Clubhouse San Antonio  set up a booth at Main Plaza for World Mental Health Day. Photo by Joan Vinson.

The Clubhouse San Antonio set up a booth at Main Plaza for World Mental Health Day. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Mental illness can affect anyone. The middle school student cutting his or her wrists, the high school student battling social anxiety, the depressed college student fighting to wake up in the morning to make it to class, or the veteran who spent years in combat and now suffers from PTSD.

“We need to let people know who are suffering with mental illness that they are not alone,” Sen. Jose Menendez said.

Menendez stressed that like those with physical ailments, people suffering from mental illness should be addressed with compassion, not a blind eye.

“We need to be taking out in the open about this issue,” he said. “We don’t need to be whispering about it.”

Sen. Jose Menendez gave a speech about the importance of embracing those individuals who suffer from mental illness. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Sen. Jose Menendez gave a speech about the importance of embracing those individuals who suffer from mental illness. Photo by Joan Vinson.

According to Menendez, nearly one million children have experienced mental health issues in Texas.

“I truly believe that how we choose to address this problem is how we will be judged by our next generation,” he said.

Now is the time to reach out to community resources including Nix Health, the Health Collaborative, Clarity Child Guidance Center, San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, the Center for Health Care Services, Laurel Ridge Treatment Center and Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.

 

*Top image: Attendees held green flags above their head in support of remembering those who suffer from mental illness. Photo by Joan Vinson.  

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18 thoughts on “World Mental Health Day: Mental Illness Deserves Compassion

  1. We really need to address the horrendous way our veterans with mental health issues created by the horrors of war are being treated by the Veterans’ Administration! Veterans are forced to wait unbearably long for appointments and then are dismissed because their doctor decided to skip work and don’t bother to notify them…

  2. From the Military side back when i serve, many base had MWR activities

    MWR stands for Morale and Welfare Recreation

    Meaning: they provide services such concerts ranging different music from R&B, Old-school, some Hip-hop, usually many bases did a lot of country concerts.

    MWR had many events on our PT fields such strength building, weight training, competition between different units, boxing matches, and other activities.

    Back in days ……we enlisted clubs to listen music, get a drink, socialize, but these thing are gone.

  3. I worked in mental health for 33 years. Before i retired from the state hospital they had to close one of the acute units to make room for patients who were incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty due to insanity. All this did was put non criminal patients out in the street. Medication research was done there and the texas legislation closed it. Funding for mental health in Texas, we were #49. Our staff was paid so little that they had second jobs or on food syamps. Our turn over was very high due to the dangerous job we had to do. One of my staff had her neck broken another his arm broken. It was becoming so dangerous and we had very little administrative support. More and more was expected from our staff and our staff was always being reported for being to harsh when trying to calm done extremely aggressive patients. The quality of our staff suffered. You can only train someone so much but if they do not have what it takes to deal with aggression, foul language and insults. Not everyone is cut out to do this job. I could say more but it is an area in Texas that needs help.

  4. I’m so happy there’s a new facility on the horizon. There is some help for Mental illness care here now, but it’s limited and the staff are overworked, which always means less, attention to detail. My hope is what some have touched base on….that there be separation of criminal and addiction facilities from those that are suffering mental disorders that either are young, never have done drugs or committed a crime and that shouldn’t be generalized in receiving treatment. I know one thing can quickly lead to another. A person can commit acts of violence or self hurt when off meds. I know a person may turn to drugs to self heal. But, there are those that need help outside of those 2 categories that end up in the main stream of things feeling like they are a criminal or an addict, specially at places like Laurel Ridge. I hope this facility will cater to all the complex needs of it’s patients, so that they can go out and live a constructive healthy life while on a medicinal program with solid aftercare. I realize that is a tall order and there are complexities in this particular subject, but imagine the reward for San Antonio to be filled with healthier soldiers and civilians. Again, thank you!

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