More than half of people with mental illness don’t receive the help they need.
Let that sink in for a minute. Imagine if this statistic were true for those diagnosed with heart disease, or if a friend chose not to seek medical care for a broken leg.
“Why,” we’d say, “That’s crazy!”
And with one brief statement, we have become a part of the problem, protecting the status of mental health as a socially-acceptable punching bag. Our vocabulary is full of euphemisms that have been silently, but steadily maintaining a barrier between those who suffer from mental health challenges and the treatment they desperately need. We even refer to this population as “the mentally ill,” but I’ve yet to hear anyone refer to an entire group of patients as “the cancerous.” The implications of such a phrase are weighty, and they take a toll.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “The stigma of mental illness is universal. A 2016 study on stigma concluded ‘there is no country, society or culture where people with mental illness have the same societal value as people without mental illness.’”
Often, those of us with mental health challenges can experience twice the struggle: we manage our diagnosis while simultaneously navigating the pervasive stereotypes that can further isolate. When a friend confides that they are fighting seasonal allergies, we welcome them and ask about their wellbeing or treatment. But the same friend will most often choose to keep their mental health diagnosis private.
What does this say about you? About me?
1 in 5 U.S. adults are impacted by mental illness. If you are one of this 20%, Crittenton has something we want you to know: You are not broken. You are not defective, and you are not alone. There are millions of us: friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers, who are working to manage our mental health. Every day, we may struggle, hide, cry, or rage. Conversely, we will often laugh, love, create, and inspire.
I’m proud of the work Crittenton does in Southern California to offer supportive outpatient mental health services to children and families. Our staff meet clients where they are: in school, at home, in the park, or online in order to offer expertise and clinical interventions. We’ve been doing so throughout the pandemic. There is no need for anyone to suffer in isolation when learning how to manage your mental health. Asking for help can often be the scariest thing to do, and this isn’t your fault. We have made this so, and we can undo these damaging stereotypes.
We start by extending our hands to say that you are welcome here. Together, no one is alone. Together, we can walk away from loneliness and into a healthier community.
If you are someone you love may be struggling with mental health challenges, learn the warning signs. Identify strategies to begin to talk about suicide, and be the friend we all need. For those that live in the South Los Angeles, Long Beach, Norwalk, Commerce and Pomona areas and would like to know more about our Mental Health Services reach out to Crittenton at Talk2Us@crittentonsocal.org.
Mr. Greg Eubanks, CEO, of Crittenton Services, has more than 25 years of experience in the child welfare and mental health fields as both a senior operating director and organizational leader for various nonprofits. He began his career in 1994 at a large multi-agency nonprofit headquartered in Texas where he continued to progress as Area Vice President. In 2014, he became President and CEO of a Seattle-based adoption agency until his most recent career appointment prior to Crittenton Services. Mr. Eubanks comes with a wealth of expertise in family preservation, community-based programs, strategic planning, program development, and performance management. In addition, he also holds a Master’s in Marriage, Family Counseling and Education, is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) Practitioner, and has been a speaker at national and international conferences.
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a nonprofit child welfare and mental health organization whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966, Crittenton has an experienced and dedicated workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive mental health services, shelter care, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a continuum of care programming effort that includes short-term residential, family preservation, integrated behavioral health, wraparound services, outpatient mental health, school-linked mental health, transitional age youth programming, and foster care services with a service plan area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties.