The former journalist in me is always reading new articles and sending them along to people I think might find them interesting. Lately, those poor souls getting a lot of my emails are our behavioral health staff.
Why? Because I feel like there are more great stories out there about mental health than ever. It used to be something no one talked about, and now that’s changing. More specifically, more people are talking openly about addiction and heroin, to help educate others and remember those they’ve lost.
A recent Washington Post story caught my eye, as it focused on some families who decided to put in their children’s obituaries, that those children died from overdoses. As a former editor, I used to scan obits regularly to see if there was anything we missed. In many cases of younger people or those without cause of death, it was easy for someone in the business to assume it was overdose related. But that probably isn’t the case for most people out there.
The obits mentioned in the WaPo story were poignant, heartbreaking and so important.
We loved Ryan with all of our hearts, but we now know that was not enough to shield him from the world. . . . While we always felt we had some grip on Ryan’s issues, his ability to hide and disguise his addiction proved superior to our parental control. . . . To all parents, pay attention to your children and the world that revolves around them.
She will be best remembered for her free spirit, love of life, and the incredible strength she had while enduring so much pain that came from her struggles with addiction.
In their grief, these parents want others to know that no one is immune and we should be talking about these issues.
That’s precisely what our behavioral health team is up to. I’ve been working with them recently to develop materials to pass out to others regarding some of our collaborative care – for adults, for children with challenging behavior, and for substance use.
The substance use initiative is called SAFER – Safety, Awareness, Freedom, Empowerment, Resilience. And our staff wants you know know they ASK EVERYONE.
In the words of our behavioral health coordinator, Stacey Burroughs – “Stigma is beginning to gasp for air.”
No one is being singled out. All doors are open. And our staff is here to ask, listen and help, if needed.
It’s pretty cool to see behind the scenes as we move forward with some great initiatives to really care for the whole person – body, mind and soul.