Changing the Conversation About Mental Illness

A Message to the Community

Each year as we expand our community education campaign and listen to more and more of our brothers and sisters tell their stories, we are struck with how many feel increasingly isolated and disconnected.

Ironically, in this time of the “information age” when we have more communication devices than ever in human history, so many of us feel alone. Behind email, text messaging and voice mail, a profound sense of loss accompanies our technological gains. At a time when we are often in “constant” contact via our smartphones, we are so much less connected to our relatives, friends and neighbors. It’s far easier to touch a keypad than to touch a life.

This disconnection and disaffection can reach toxic levels of profound isolation that allows a person to see himself as apart from others and not a part of others. In this changed perspective, it all too easy to see others as having nothing to do with our lives and vice versa. By objectifying others in such moments, we lose site of one another’s humanity.

For decades we have known that the loss of confidence and the pain of worry and depression is inherent in most psychiatric conditions. On their own, these conditions often lead to feelings of isolation. And isolation is frequently magnified by the social stigma still associated with mental health problems.

At Stairways Behavioral Health, we dream of the day when people are increasingly comfortable talking about a mental health disorder in the same way they would pneumonia, glaucoma or asthma. A disorder of the brain, which can cause clinical depression or panic attacks or more serious illness such as schizophrenia, is simply another disorder of an organ of the body.

Stairways re-commits itself not only to serving people, but to combating the negative perceptions associated with mental health conditions. We will continue to help close the gap between and among our fellow citizens and promote a culture in which we take the time to care for one another. Elected officials proposed “No child left behind,” but how much more relevant it is to life in general, and not solely the realm of education! It turns out that we cannot afford to leave anyone behind!

"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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