mental health

Visible Voices Vote

My Better Half shared this article with me on November 6, 2018 (Election Day), and I want to pass it along to others while trying to touch on some of the issues and resources in this article.

I really appreciate the idea and process of supporting all persons with making informed choices and to do so in a way that respects their autonomy as humans and their rights as citizens.

The idea of a social story and anticipatory guidance feels so smart and kind for most adults who are voting for the first time. I think many young adults could benefit from this resource and, as such, I consider it a gift from this mother to have created it for her son and share it.

As I read and re-read the resources in this article, I delved deeper into the Bazelon Center site.

It’s eye-opening and mind-blowing how variable and fraught with ambiguity the law seems to be on the matter of whether individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns can vote. It reminds me, in many ways, of the bar we set before people wishing to become a US citizen.

More specifically, my work often involves talking with families about the topic of guardianship for their children as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. This article gave me cause for pause and added to my understanding about how guardianship determinations could impact a person’s ability to vote later in life or in another state if they so choose to move.

In closing, I would like to encourage folks to share this Know Your Rights resource on voting.

Fire Away

 

I began writing this post in February of 2017 with the idea that I would post it during national suicide prevention awareness month in September of 2017. Then 13 Reasons Why happened.

This is what I wrote back in February of 2017 when this topic was foremost in my mind:

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers. Ahead of homicide and behind accidents, suicide accounts for approximately 8.7 deaths per 100,000 as of 2014. As of this writing, suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

This is unacceptable. And we all know it.

This sickens and angers me beyond all recognition because we could prevent and detect it better with more well-integrated physical and mental health care. Specific segments of society are at even greater risk for suicide: Native AmericansLGBTQ, and individuals with disabilities.

This is what I write now after having watched 13 Reasons Why all the way through three times.

I am going to write this as a consumer of art, as a father, and as a mental health provider.

Things I thought the series did well in the service of addressing suicide risk factors:

  • Portraying slut-shaming and sexual assault as risk factors for suicide

  • Elaboration of the "bro-code" dynamic that encourages the bystander effect

  • Pro-social presentation of consent (during Hannah's interaction with Clay)

  • Range of issues that can lead to adolescents being bullied or ostracized

  • Hyper-acceleration of comparison and degradation via social media platforms

Things I thought the series insinuated but did not do well to follow through on:

Things I thought the series failed at articulating in a coherent manner:

  • Presentation of topics without trigger warnings and access to resources

    • I recognize that they added these later. A day late and a dollar short. I am a staunch proponent of free speech, but the creators of this show owed the viewers (particularly younger ones) access to content to support their reaction to it.

  • Presentation of conflicting roles for the school counselor as normative

    • I recognize that mental health providers are fallible and human. However, the lack of skill and empathy as described here in Mr. Porter’s Mistake is inexcusable.

  • Woefully inadequate and inept suicide risk assessment on multiple levels

After the show received quite a bit of critical acclaim and consternation, they added in some of the things I referenced here in my thinking and writing back when 13 Reasons Why was originally released.

The best defense is a good offense.

We need to go on the offensive by doing everything we can to prevent suicide today. There are so many direct and immediate ways that people can involved with suicide prevention efforts:

  • Reading and Sharing Resources: https://www.nami.org/suicideawarenessmonth

  • Joining or Supporting a Walk Team: https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?

  • Learning and Knowing the Signs: http://www.suicideispreventable.org/

  • Connecting with Professionals: http://www.gvpa.net/event-2018-10-12.asp

At the end of the day, there is no good reason for how or why someone takes their own life.

TALK SAVES LIVES

This song and music video by Chris Stapleton radically captures the experience of suicide.

Know the Five Signs of emotional suffering. Visit www.changedirection.org.