An overhaul in the area of mental health has been long overdue. This overhaul is multi-faceted. Access, attitudes toward mental health, conversations about mental health, etc. The pandemic illiuminated the dire state that WE ARE ALL IN as it relates to mental health. The need far outweighs the resources and supports available. Therapists like myself have seen a tremendous increase in referrals and folx requesting therapy services. As a result, many therapists have waiting lists. Of course, this shortage of therapists particularly impacts Black and Brown folx as there are less BIPOC therapists in general.
I was moved to write about this issue now in the wake of Stephen Twitch Boss' untimely death. I have struggled, even as a therapist, to process this loss, let alone write or speak on it. As a therapist I have unfortunately experienced my share of deaths by suicide. It never gets easy. However Boss' passing hit me in the gut in a way that I did not expect. I am inclined to think that there is a reason for most things and I believe this loss carries purpose...a message if you will.
We are experiencing a mental health pandemic. It is getting worse. Therapists know this, and, we need to keep going, so many of us do not stay in this space very long. We are at a tipping point and something needs to happen. Suicide rates have increased for people of color, particularly Black men since 2019. Suicide rates have also been higher for children and adolescents since the pandemic. Substance abuse/dependence rates have seen an increase as well in the past 3-4 years. We are collectively experiencing a mental health crisis. It is no longer (and never was) only a certain percentage of the population.
The state of the world we are living in and the timing of events has created a mental health storm. The pandemic, racism, homophobia/transphobia, sexism, politics, climate change, etc. People are experiencing an extreme, intense, understandable amount of existential dread. The stressors in the world far outweigh the joys in life.
Mental health has received more coverage and talking time. People are more willing to seek out services. But we need to continue to push and do more. There are so many people out there suffering, in silence, and we need to break the silence. Going to therapy needs to be as common as taking an Uber, ordering from Doordash, or posting something on social media.
Mental health needs to be accessible. The pandemic helped in this area with the normalization of teletherapy. It needs to go further. Insurance is an unnecessary gatekeeper that reduces access. So much more needs to be done and could improve the lives of so many.
I am hoping that there is a lesson learned from Boss' passing. A deeper and clearer understanding of what depression looks like and what will help the mental health landscape. Mental illness, depression, anxiety...can be anyone. Sure, there are signs and symptoms. But ultimately, it touches ALL of us. Whether it's you, your family, your friend, your co-worker...mental illness IS a part of life that we can no longer ignore.