In the wake of the tragedy that took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, a blogger from across the country was arguably the first to break through the noise and galvanize a debate around mental health.
Liza Long’s blog post about raising a mentally ill child, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” talks about her experiences raising her 13-year-old son, whom she describes as a gifted but unpredictable child who has threatened to kill her and himself.
As she put it, “I love my son. But he terrifies me."
Her blog post quickly went viral, got picked up by the The Huffington Post and others, earned a million likes on Facebook, and led to Long's appearance on CNN to talk about the way mental illness is stigmatized in America.
“I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” Long wrote. “I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help.”
The Facts About Mental Health
The issue is enormous: An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from mental disorders in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
That’s one in four people in the country, or about 57.7 million people. And more than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder.
But many of us don’t know how to talk about these figures, or where to find the solution. The Newtown tragedy sparked a national conversation about gun control and legislative action--President Obama is already pushing for new laws to prevent gun violence. But Americans are just beginning their conversations with one another about mental health.
What do you think we should do? We know many of our young people are angry, depressed, anxious. Can we help each other as parents, teachers, neighbors?
We need new ideas. What are yours?