World Mental Health Day

Tuesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day.

Last week in Brooklyn, a young climate activist and advocate for those with drug addiction was randomly stabbed to death by a teenager. It was all caught on video, and the teen has been arrested. To make the tragedy worse, the alleged perpetrator has a history of mental illness. Two months ago his aunt called the police to say that her nephew was “mentally disturbed” and had destroyed a number of his girlfriend’s possessions after a fight. No arrest was made and no help given. 

We love to blame mental health issues for violent and seemingly senseless crimes, and yet, we do very little in this country to make sure that people can access mental health care. 

Sure, the stigma is not nearly what it was thirty, or even 10 years ago, but mental health care is still mainly for white people who can pay for the cost of therapy. There is still a lot of support for mental healthcare in Black and Hispanic communities. And the poor are not only at greater risk for mental health care issues, they are less likely to have access to care. 

This week, put some feet to your thoughts and prayers about better serving those who can’t get access to care and the help they need.

  • Find out what kind of mental health care services are offered in your area and how people can access them. They may be funded by your city or county government or by a non-profit like United Way–or a combination of all of the above. 
  • Listen to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Podcast 
  • Connect with your local NAMI to see what services they offer and how you can get involved. 
  • Contact your local and state representatives and urge them to more fully fund and increase access to mental health care. What if that became the issue one issue voters made their decisions on? 

Loving our neighbors means making sure they have access to the care they need (there’s a reason The Good Samaritan is one the best known stories in the Bible). 

While we certainly can’t attribute all (or even most) violent crime to mental illness, we can do more than simply grieve those whose lives are lost because someone didn’t have access to care. We can help make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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