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Why Access Matters – Mental Health


Within the last decade, mental Illness has become a popular topic, especially due to the volume of mass shootings that have occurred in the last ten years. During this time, we have witnessed such mass shootings: Jared Loughner (Tucson Shooting), Seung Hui Cho (Virginia Tech Massacre), Elliot Rodger (Isla Vista Massacre), and Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook shooting).

Mental Health has many Disguises

The majority of individuals mentioned were diagnosed with a mental health disorder at some point. Prior to these tragic events, some of the individuals did receive a form of mental health treatment. However, most fell through the gaps and did not receive appropriate and consistent healthcare. This is not uncommon, especially when talking about mental health care. Beyond stigmas that currently exist within the community, affordability and availability of mental health care for marginalized groups, especially those living in poverty or below the poverty line make it easy for people to fall through the gaps of receiving adequate healthcare.

Many tragedies occur within American homes every day, each related to the inadequate care of mental health disorders. For example, domestic violence and substance abuse have been known to create traumatic experiences within the home (see Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)). The key takeaway, when addressing things like substance abuse or domestic violence, is to look at assault, substance abuse, or other maladaptive behaviors as symptoms or mechanisms that perpetuate a pre-existing condition. The lack of care of these conditions leads to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders that can have not only a negative impact on the individual but on family, friends, co-workers, and communities.

We know that treatment options exist. We know what happens when these diseases are not treated. But the important question is how are we preventing maladaptive behaviors and ensuring all people are receiving adequate care?

Adequate Care and Mental Health Care Access

Education is one of the most powerful weapons with which we can equip ourselves to help care for those who need mental health care. We’ve compiled a couple tips for those seeking care for themselves or for a loved one.

Tips for those Seeking Care:

  • Mental health is not something you need to be ashamed of or blame yourself for – seeking adequate care from a professional is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions.
  • Be honest with your healthcare provider. If a medication is giving you adverse symptoms or does not seem to be working, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Locate support communities – online and/or off.
  • Research different techniques that can be used for support.

Tips for those Seeking Care for a Loved One:

  • Education. Education. Familiarize yourself with what your loved one’s mental health condition entails, its symptoms, and care.
  • Research different techniques that can be used for support.
  • Locate support communities – online and/or off.
  • Offer encouragement to attend doctor’s appointments
  • Meet their doctor or clinician and establish a relationship with them.
  • Learn their treatment plan.
  • Become a member of their support team.
  • Offer your support, love, and care.
  • Rid yourself of any stereotypes or stigmas you might be holding onto when it comes to mental health.


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STARS is deeply committed to creating a culture and work space that centers on the power of relationships, that values diversity of perspective and experience, and that honors the dignity, worth, and contributions of all.