Regarding the recent blog post “Robin Williams' death a wake-up call for mental health workers” (ModernHealthcare.com, Aug. 12), as a lifelong advocate and mental healthcare provider, I, on behalf of my colleagues, applaud the efforts of storytellers and journalists such as John N. Frank who challenge us to be more introspective and offer a wake-up call to the general population. Such efforts help us to constantly re-evaluate the work we do and ensure that we are engaging in meaningful dialogue across communities, disciplines and within families. It is important to help people realize that resources are available to combat the challenges they experience and they do not need to suffer alone.
Williams' death sheds light on mental-health issues
Robin Williams has forever cut off his spark from the rest of us—his wit, his humor and his humanity—and in doing so he also shed light on an issue that we as a society must face. Depression chronically manifests itself as a feeling of being alone. As a response to this tragedy, we must seek to further the discussion, outreach and, yes, offer effective treatment, for people suffering from this common and relievable experience.
Williams' tragic passing serves as a stark reminder that mental illness knows no barriers. We must make this a communal issue about reducing stigma, enhancing access to quality care and addressing the barriers that keep people from achieving optimal physical and mental health. It is vital that we share stories about confronting and overcoming depression and other mental-health issues. Only by reassuring sufferers that there is help, that they are not alone and that they can get better, can we overcome the stigma that prevents them from reaching out for help.
There are evidence-based and effective treatments at many provider agencies throughout the country. We must shout from the rooftops that help is available, and that people can and do get better.
David J. WoodlockPresident and CEOICL, New York;Former deputy commissionerNew York State Office of Mental Health
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