A Mental Health Rant for 2021

Jordan Brown

This one is going to be raw.

It's 2021, and we still treat mental health differently from physical health.

I encourage my employees to take care of themselves and their mental health, but I still notice that it's easier to say you have a physical illness than a mental illness.

Mental illness still isn't reported in the news like the complex, nuanced phenomenon that it is.

We can pick apart the countless flaws in a structural design of a building when it collapses--and rightfully so--but we can't paint a complete picture when a man has a serious mental illness and ends up in jail because of it.

Why is this?

The easy answer is stigma.

The hard answer is, well, hard.

It's people.

And behaviors.

And fearing what we don't understand.

It's the lack of certainty of what's going on, in ourselves and in others.

It's the buried understanding that each one of us could lose our mental health at any time.

The Western Medicine Magical Mindset has fully embraced physical health and the multitude of cures at our disposal, for better or worse.

But mental health is a different ball game.

Actually, it's a sport where we haven't even finished creating the rules yet.

So we send people with mental illness around the bases when we don't know how many stops on the field there are yet, or if there's even a way home.

So what do we do about our mental health nightmare?

I thought I could create change within the mental health system.

But then I started working mental health jobs, in community programs, in hospitals, in state government.

And what did I find?

That the system is broken everywhere.

Organizations don't talk with one another.

People get sicker and sicker at unacceptably high rates.

So, after working at a major hospital on the east coast, I decided to just give it up and follow my heart.

I decided to leave the system.

Because I think the changes in the mental health system will come from the outside.

And it all starts with big ideas.

Now, I'm not saying that I have all the big ideas, but I have some.

Start with public education.

Make information meaningful and accessible.

Meet people where they are.

Don't talk down to them.

That's what I do with The Mental Health Update.

There are now over 1300 people who read this newsletter.

The Mental Health Update website gets 20,000 visitors a month.

I'm not sure what the end goal is yet, but I know that this information is needed.

Honest, helpful information.

Information that invites people to start a conversation.

When my mom stopped sleeping and exhibited scary behaviors in 2009, I had no idea what to do.

When I stopped sleeping and was was seriously depressed in 2014, I had a better idea of what to do.

But I still struggled to get the care I needed.

Now I know everything starts with easy access to practical information.

So that's what I'm doing here--trying to shift the world one word at a time.