The silent and strong


To the Editor:

A recent articles in the Troy Daily News by a well-known, well-respected person who said he could “stay silent…no longer” has prompted this writing. That person is David Fong, who is showing his strength through his public self-disclosure concerning a condition that affects too many to count and one that has a stigma attached; the condition known as mental illness.

Stigma is responsible for false belief, including that those affected have some kind of character defect, that inner strength is lacking, etc. It is stigma that makes people stay silent and left to struggle on their own as best they can. It is stigma that leads someone to feel self-loathing, shame and despair, which, in turn, can lead to loneliness and isolation. It is stigma that has kept health care for mental conditions lagging behind that for physical conditions. In fact, it wasn’t until Sept. 26, 1996, that legislation was passed in an effort to achieve parity (equality) for mental health treatment (Mental Health Parity Act or MHPA) and it wasn’t until Oct. 3, 2008, that the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equality Act (MHPAEA) was passed (this added new, significant protections to the MHPA).

And yet, people like David Fong are actually the strong ones. Breaking the silence sheds light on darkness, it opens the door for advocacy and makes it possible to change beliefs and attitudes. Breaking the silence means those who have stayed strong for so long only to eventually choose a permanent solution to a treatable condition may feel free to choose the treatment option.

Following are just some references for more information on mental health parity and other information concerning mental health: www.samhsa.org, www.cms.gov, www.nami.org, www. suicide.org (there is a wealth of information here including hotline numbers, survivor forums, special hotline for military veterans, etc.). Locally there is the the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health, tcbmds.org; a crisis hotline number at 335-7727 and the Dayton Suicide Prevention Center at 1-800-320 HELP (4357).

— Marcia Youtz

Troy