First, I just wanted to start by saying a heartfelt thank you for all of the incredible outpouring of support I have received over the last day or so from everyone in regards to my new book. I am speechless! Yesterday my husband and I spent most of the day at a Youth Mental Health Fair which I mentioned to you earlier in the week where I got to promote my book and do some networking as well. It’s one of the most satisfying feelings in the world to give back and help support a good cause, especially one that is very near and dear to your heart.
As most of you are well aware, issues surrounding youth mental health today has been on a scary and steady rise over the last many years and sadly our mental health care support system has been on a very steady decline. I met so many amazing people yesterday, many of whom their lives have been deeply impacted by this steady decline and many of which have seen first hand that the stigma surrounding mental illness has not come as far as I had once hoped.
I listened to one heartbreaking story after another from relatives and friends and parents all of whom had lost someone they loved to suicide in their youth. One such story came from a young girl who lost 2 classmates to suicide and that the school administration told the students that they were not allowed to talk about the tragedies at school as it could have a triggering or copy cat effect on others. I was not necessarily shocked (okay I’m lying, I was jaw droppingly shocked), but I was also deeply saddened that instead of helping these students and their families cope and heal from these sudden losses they should just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.
I heard several other very similar stories, one in particular from a girl who wrote a beautiful poem for a school assignment after losing her cousin to suicide, earning her an A+, but upon wanting to share it with her peers at a school assembly she was shut down. And there was one story in particular that is etched in my mind. I met the parents of a boy who after years of suffering and feeling very let down by the healthcare system took his own life 5 years ago at the age of 17. His parents at one time during his journey were told by a psychiatrist that he was unable to help their son because he wasn’t “sick enough yet” and to bring him back when he got sicker. There truly are no words. Smh
I will remember yesterday, not by the books I sold but by the human connections I made, by the support I felt radiating in a room filled with strangers and by knowing that there are so many kindhearted people out there advocating for the change we so desperately need.