May is Mental Health Awareness Month and much will be written on the status of mental health care in our country over the next 30 days. As the leading peer-led national organization for people living with mood disorders, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is pleased to contribute to that conversation through our relationship with Psych Central. Beginning today we will author a monthly post to address mental health public policy issues. Our goal is to create awareness and foster dialogue around access to quality mental health care for people living with mood disorders.
We embarked on this goal a year ago when we partnered with Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA) and published the first Care For Your Mind post. Since then we have covered a variety of topics in that blog including the role of mental health parity and the Affordable Care Act in accessing quality mental health care, to the role of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in restricting access to antidepressants and antipsychotics for recipients of Medicare Part D.
But since we recognize that mood disorders present across the entire spectrum of life from childhood through the senior years, we have selected Youth Suicide Prevention as our inaugural post for PsychCentral. Consider these facts:
- Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among 15-to-24-year olds
- 1,100 college students die by suicide each year
- Roughly one in ten college students has considered suicide
Care For Your Mind is devoting five weeks to discussing this important public health challenge. In a post from William Coryell, M.D., George Winokur Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Dr. Coryell shares his knowledge gained as co-chair of the National Network of Depression Centers Suicide Prevention Task Force. In that post his views on youth suicide risk factors are identified and discussed. The medical community, peers and family members have all shared personal comments around that post from innovation in research, to programs in schools and universities that are making a difference and changing the conversation.
One of those programs making a difference is Active Minds Inc. Executive director Alison Malmon is a strong advocate for recognizing the importance of involving college-age students in the solution. She challenges us to look no further than the students sitting in classrooms, eating in dining halls and sleeping in dorms.
Molly Jenkins, a suicide attempter and mental health advocate, underscored this point when she spoke at the Illinois Statewide Suicide Prevention Conference on April 25, 2014. According to Jenkins “if just one of her roommates or friends had asked her if she was suicidal, it would have made a difference.”
We all need to be part of the conversation. Whether it is not being afraid to say the word “suicide” to a friend or loved one when asking them how they are, to providing hope by sharing our personal journey, to demanding that politicians fund prevention programs by passing the Garrett Lee Smith Reauthorization Act of 2013, our collective voices need to be heard. Together we can and will prevent youth suicides in this country.
Join us on CareForYourMind, where we’ll be talking about Youth Suicide Prevention throughout May with guest experts Dr. William Coryell, Alison Malmon, Molly Jenkins and Dr. Cheryl King.