I have heard your frustrations about the politicians not listening to you in regards to gun control. I am not going to get into how I feel about gun control. What I do want to talk about are my frustrations regarding mental health.
Many of you have been having your voices heard via social media, the news channels, a town hall, and even a visit to the Oval Office.
I, unlike you, can not get my voice heard. I have a mental illness and am a well known mental health advocate online. I have written numerous letters, emails, made phone calls and even met a few legislators. Although, I have heard back from President Clinton (after he was out of office), some governors, and a few local politicians, and two Congressman, all in all, I have not gotten my voice heard.
I commend you for not giving up. I have not given up either. I just can’t get my voice heard like you and am wondering why and am hoping you can help.
Every time there is a mass shooting, the media likes to talk about gun control and mental health as the main two topics as to the cause. Too quickly the main focus goes to gun control and that is probably because it is so partisan. However, mental health reform does not have to be something that needs to be debated as it is a known problem and people on both sides of the aisle agree something needs to be done. Unfortunately, the stories fade, and little is done.
There have been laws brought up on the floor of Congress and a few even passed that have dealt with mental health. However, none of them really have helped much obviously.
The thing that bothers me the most is that when they convene study groups, they do not include people who are mentally ill. They will include psychiatrists, politicians, physicians,some advocates, but rarely do they include people who are dealing with the mental illnesses. We, the mentally ill, should be the first line of defense and should get our voices heard. Just like you, Parkland High students, who have dealt with the issue at hand, we, the mentally ill, have dealt with mental illness firsthand.
You have lost 17 valuable lives and in no way am I belittling that, but do you know how many people are lost due to mental illness? Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder Source1 , 20 veterans commit suicide each day, Source2 About 13% of those suffering from Schizophrenia die from suicide. Source3
Due to the misconceptions in the media oftentimes, I do want to point out that less than 2% of people with mental illness are violent and therefore are not any more likely to carry out a mass shooting than any other evil person.
To the Victims/Survivors of Stoneman Douglas High School: You have a voice and now I hope you can help mental health advocates, like me get a voice too. I have written to numerous media outlets and as previously stated many politicians to no avail. You obviously have gotten your word out. What can I do to get heard? I have written many blogs under the pseudonym “Bipolar Bandit” many of which deal with mental health advocacy. I also started a FB group and FB page dealing with mental health advocacy that have combined approximately 45,000 members worldwide. My blogs are read by hundreds every day and my groups and pages are very active. My main purpose of the group and page is to unite those with mental illness and their advocates for change. I also am on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as Bipolar Bandit and the advocacy page also has a Twitter and Pinterest page.
I hope this does not fall on deaf ears and you can help me. Mental illness played a part in the Parkland shooting and many other mass killings lately and it gets talked about after the shooting, but fades away shortly thereafter. Let’s put a change to that! You are the future! I hope that you can change the way people with mental illnesses are handled and help to erase the stigma.
I have written several blogs that I would like for you to read to give you an idea of the things I have attempted to do including letters I have written to politicians. (links below)
Thanks for your time. If you have read this, I hope that you pass it on to your followers via retweeting the link or sharing on your FB page or talking to your legislators. I also would like to hear from you. My email address is Mickey3333NC@gmail.com or you can contact me via FB at: https://www.facebook.com/Mickey3333. Even if it is a voice of encouragement, I would greatly appreciate it and I am up for any advice and constructive criticism.
I would be happy to do the same for you to better your cause. Let’s work together and make a difference so things like this don’t keep happening. Let me know how I can help. I would be happy to retweet your tweets and follow your social media sites.
(These are just a few mental health advocacy related articles I have written.) I encourage you to join our group called Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses to help us change the system. )
Thanks for your time.
Michelle Lande Clark