Is there Still a taboo over Mental Illness?

Prevention shotByMarIanne Reid Anderson

Nothing is more tragic than someone taking their own life. It is especially tragic when it is a young person. The isolation, despondency and despair that must lead to such an act is heart-wrenching. The brain is the most sophisticated super computer in the universe and modern science knows more than ever before how to care for it. Specifically, how hormones, negative thought processes and biochemical reactions can affect a person’s thought process and consequently, how it can be reversed.

Additionally, anyone can feel overwhelmed and be in need of coping strategies during various dark times in their lives. Yet, we continue to be plagued by the loss of good people and adolescents. What can we do to reach them before we lose them?

According to licensed, practicing mental health therapist and published author, Debra Whittam, “It is the universal and generational impact of untreated mental illness, untreated addiction and unacknowledged grief that flows through our family tree which creates the most danger.  Like on a river of silence and denial, old family rules of NOT talking about it brings death and destruction which is happening to our young adults right now.  The main point of my book, Am I Going To Be Okay?  Weathering the Storms of Mental Illness, Addiction and Grief. is to encourage all of us to start talking about it….all of it. Old, archaic and firmly entrenched family rules of silence are becoming the most dangerous opponents out there for admitting what is happening with our young people right under our very noses. Let’s start talking about it at home, in our schools, in group sessions at our counselor’s office.  By remaining quiet, by not reaching out and sharing our own family stories with our teens, we participate in the growing number of suicides and overdoses that plague our young.  Let’s talk about it.”

If you or someone you love needs help, it is perfectly alright to reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week. Call 1-800-273TALK (8255), or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline. org/ to click to chat.

But, as always, what do you think? Let’s continue the conversation on my blog at, where there are links to Debra Whittam’s book and other helpful resources or email me at or send me a “Letter to the Editor” at P.O Box 722 Wexford, PA 15090-0722 attn: Marianne Reid Anderson.