Why mental health helps everyone and everything
So much ties back to a lack of care
Crime is a mental health issue. Homelessness is a mental health issue. Poverty, drug use, alcohol abuse, everything. Everything is a mental health issue, because everything ties back to inadequate mental health care services.
Mental health seeps into every facet of our lives, and it should. It is, quite literally, the baseline of our life. So, why is it that believing a lot of society’s problems stem from a lack of adequate mental health care services is seen as unreasonable? Ideas like this are the reason that, for some reason, mental illness has been stigmatized and supports and services have been limited, if offered at all.
This can be seen, quite plainly, with people like Caroline Flack: a woman who was failed by the world, her mind, and a lack of mental health care.
Flack was the host of the reality TV show Love Island from it’s 2015 premiere until Dec 2019. Her departure from the show was due to her being arrested after pleading not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend. CNN reports that “she was out on bail awaiting trial scheduled for March” when she passed away.
She was found dead in her home in mid-February. Her death has been ruled as a suicide. Not surprisingly, before her death tabloids were despicable toward her. When she began to spiral because of it, they only attacked her more.
CNN also reported that she’d been attacked by media organizations “for dating a 17-year-old Harry Styles while she was 31” and that her assault allegations going public resulted in articles about her “on an almost daily basis.”
They also reported that her mental health began to deteriorate with the added amounts of negative attention, saying that “after she was charged, a front page of the Daily Star newspaper branded her “Caroline Smack,” while The Sun published and then deleted a story about a “’brutal’ Valentine Day’s card mocking her assault case.”
At every turn, Flack was attacked. At every sign that she was struggling, that she was losing grip, that she needed support, the hate train against her hyped up and resulted in her lashing out further.
Is it a coincidence that after sexist public scrutiny for years she’d begin to slip up? And how, whenever the media reared against her, she would make an even bigger mistake? No. It isn’t a coincidence. It’s one of the biggest, most repeated mistakes of our generation: blatantly ignoring real mental health concerns because we don’t know how to deal with it, or mocking it publicly because it’s “funny.” This treatment always comes back to stigma.
Flack, being in the television spotlight, would pass through the barrier that many middle-class workers who struggle from mental health face: a lack of funding to acquire medication, counselling, or other forms of support. Having the money to assist with something doesn’t, however, actually help the problem. What helps is knowing that the money being given to establishments offering to support you will actually support you.
Flack is an example of a woman who was suffering through a mental health spiral, and nobody in her life thought that her violence, distraught nature, or vulnerability had to do with her declining mental state. People didn’t think to offer her support, instead they sought to villainize her even further, profiting off of her misery.
Because, for some reason, we still view mental health as a public tool for mockery, not a genuine health concern that requires assistance. Unfortunately, the sad state of our mental health care services is exactly that; it’s about making profit instead of making a difference.
Similar to this, in a case that’s closer to home, a lack of adequate mental health care due to financial restraints is in part why Chazz Petrella, a 12-year-old boy from Ontario, committed suicide in 2016. The child regularly talked about how he “couldn’t shut his brain off”, and all methods the Petrella family tried either didn’t work, or were too expensive to allow regular treatment.
The family also openly discussed how Chazz had been in “almost a dozen agencies … in the last few years of his life” but that the boy “never received a thorough psychiatric evaluation or diagnosis”.
Drugs, alcohol, abuse, suicide, homelessness, all stem back to a lack of adequate health care. I’m not arguing that these problems would completely vanish if health care was more widely affordable and accessible, I’m arguing that many of the struggles we face today as a society would be less prominent and less influential.
Because if mental health was prioritized and as affordable as physical health treatments were, I doubt we’d be facing half the problems we are today. The world would be focused on health and on the value of keeping everyone safe, opposed to what it is now: a competition to see who can make the most money off of those who are struggling.