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Mental Health – The Topic No One Is Discussing After Parkland Tragedy

I want to preface what I’m about to discuss by stating that I am not a political person (though I do vote every chance I get), I don’t pay attention to the news that much, and I try to stay out of as many non-sports debates as possible – especially on social media.  However, I felt the need to touch on the topic that is still dominating the news and that has stirred up a lot of debates and arguments.

We all know what happened in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day.  Personally, I watched the news a lot that day, and while I would really like to say that I couldn’t believe another school shooting was happening, I actually could believe it.

That’s the sad reality of the world we live in.  There’s always a possibility that something crazy could go down at any point in the day.  I work in a mall that isn’t really busy, and I thought that something tragic wouldn’t happen in my workplace… until the mall about 15-20 minutes away had a fatal stabbing last May.  Now I know that it could happen.  It doesn’t stop me from going into work or trying to enjoy my job, because if it did I would be letting some criminal completely ruin my life and livelihood.

The latest school incident has stirred up a ton of emotion, and has brought many issues such as gun control and security in our schools to light.  I’m not going to go into detail on my stance on either of those topics, though I do believe that there should be more security in schools, that it should be much harder to enter a school (especially when you don’t attend that school), and that it should be harder to purchase a gun especially when you are a teenager.  That’s not what this article is about.

We can talk about those topics, but there’s another issue that should be front and center but is yet again getting ignored and forgotten about.

With every tragic incident or even the threat of an incident, there lie individuals that are in desperate need of mental health assistance.

Mental health is a HUGE problem in our current, past, and unfortunately future society, and yet it feels like no one really wants to discuss it or come up with some remedies.

No sane person just wakes up one morning and says “oh I’m going to go grab a gun and shoot up a school/theater/public building”.  The person that is responsible for the Parkland, FL shooting (I know his name but I’m not using it on purpose) clearly has some terrible demons inside of him.  Jonathan Martin, the former Miami Dolphin lineman who was the center of a bullying controversy, needs some serious help after his Instagram post last week.  And there is probably someone close to each and every person reading this that likely need some help as well.

I guarantee that a large majority, if not every single person around, has some sort of mental issues.  We all go through shit on a daily basis, and while some of us have figured out ways to cope with the good and the bad, many of us let it negatively affect us.  Criticism, being harassed, being bullied, rejection, heartache, tragedy, strife – it shapes us and can break us.

For the longest time, seeking mental help drew a negative connotation.  The admission of seeking out help often draws even more harassment, getting labeled as “crazy”, or just being seen as abnormal, which then leads to the cycle of more mental issues.

I, for one, am proud to admit that I have sought out therapy for a few years now.  I’ve suffered from depression, social anxiety, and anxiety in general, plus I have a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem.  Those issues don’t just go away; I still have my bouts with them occasionally.  I was verbally harassed and bullied as a kid, and people used me for my intelligence when I was in school, which led to my lack of trust in most individuals.  I always think there’s an ulterior motive to people being nice to me or wanting to be friends, and I have a really tough time socializing with people, especially females and strangers.  Retail was probably not the right field for me.

I never knew how depressed or miserable I really was until I started going to counseling and actually absorbing the knowledge and advice that was being given to me.  I was never at the point of wanting to harm myself or anyone else, but I did have a lot of negative thoughts.  Like why doesn’t anything good happen to me or why don’t people like me or what is the point of anything and everything.  I wondered if anyone noticed if I were to just disappear, or if anyone would really care.  Those are not normal thoughts, but I guarantee a lot of people who seem normal on the outside have felt the same way.

Until recently, I’d be afraid to mention my therapy sessions or my amazing counselor.  I’d consider myself abnormal for needing help to figure out the things that other people do easily, like talk to people or trust others or try new things.

But I know that I’m not abnormal, not at all actually.  There are children, adults, celebrities, athletes, and probably people in everyone’s families and friend list that have mental health issues.  It’s a national epidemic and it’s being completely ignored.

We can put metal detectors everywhere we go.  We can lock doors and make it impossible to enter buildings as visitors.  We can search people.  We can either put guns in everyone’s hands or take them away from everyone.  That could save a few lives and prevent some tragic events.

But what are we doing about the mental state of the public?  Where’s the outrage and debates over things that can and should be done?

Mental health should be discussed at every level of school and in life.  The only time kids really get to see a professional or get counseling is after an event like the Parkland shooting.  That needs to happen BEFORE the incident as well.  Trust me, just having someone to listen to your issues, even if they are not a professional and don’t really give any advice, can sometimes make a world of difference.  Having someone be there for you in a time of need can be extremely powerful.  I’ll never forget reaching out to a friend when I had a bout of depression a couple years ago.  I use her response as a source of motivation when I need it, and it proved to me just how important our friendship is to me.

I actually need a minute after thinking about that…

The narrative around counseling needs to change completely.  People who are brave enough to acknowledge their flaws should be celebrated not knocked down.  It should be “normal” to reach out, seek help, or be the person that is willing to help.  We need to educate the public on the effects of any and everything that causes distress.  You’re not crazy if you need help; you’re crazy if you think that you’re above it or that you’re better than others if you don’t need assistance.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to go through something like Parkland, Columbine, or everything in between.  At some point, it has to stop, and those kids in Florida are doing a damn good job trying to get some change to occur.  We, as a society, have to change our mindset as a whole, and examining the mental health issue that is crippling this country should be tops on that list.

There’s no shame in needing help.  It’s out there, it’s completely normal to seek it out, and it can be hugely beneficial.

I really appreciate anyone who read this article.  And if you need anyone to talk to or need help, I’m always available to listen or assist.

Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)

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