today is world mental health day

Of all the commemorative days out there, this is among the most important to recognize. The reason for that is it so often feels like we as a global society have not progressed at all in reducing the overwhelming stigma around mental health issues. In fact, sometimes it seems as if we’ve actually taken steps backward or simply failed altogether. In particular, the media and the politicians excel at stoking the flames of stigma in the realm of public consciousness. Inevitably this happens around the event of a mass shooting or some other act of seemingly senseless violence. Suddenly the generic image of the ‘troubled and mentally unstable person’ is once again waved about as an attempt to explain an act for which there will likely never be a satisfactory explanation.

It is of course encouraging to turn on the radio on days like today and hear the newscasters discussing mental health in a less than disparaging way. The statistics are always staggering to hear and, in particular, the numbers of people who don’t ever seek or receive help tell the story of stigma quite accurately. After awhile, though, the topic once again drops from the public radar. Yet it never drops from the radar of those of us who personally struggle with these issues. We live with it every day of our lives. And how many of us continue to cope with it alone, in silence?

Still, I hold out hope when, for example, I open the pages of this new issue of Razorcake magazine. At least the punks are recognizing it, I think. And not only acknowledging it, but speaking about it in such frank terms. It is an excellent issue, relevant beyond a punk readership, and I tip my hat to Kurt Morris and the other staffers who helped compile it, as well as the many fine folks in the punk community who agreed to be interviewed and share their stories with whomever wishes to read them.

There is a good chance that someone close to you is struggling with mental health issues. If you sense this is the case then just by making yourself available to them you are helping. Checking in from time to time to ask about their lives and see how they’re doing goes a long way. It really can be as simple as that.

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