I must preface this by saying that I am in no way trying to minimize the importance of all the other marches in Washington. It is about something very close to heart.
There are approximately 46 million people in the US with mental illness. That’s only the ones who have been diagnosed. Do they take into account the homeless with mental illness? I doubt it. Same for those whose cultural or spiritual beliefs preclude them from getting help for mental illness. Wow, that is a huge number. Approximately one in five adults with mental illness. One in five adults who are marginalized and whom upon judgement is passed.
I am one of those 46 million Americans. I am open about my having bipolar disorder because it is not shameful and I also am quite the opinionated person. I’m also passionate about the subject. There are so many other issues that swirl around mental illness. Substance abuse and violence are big ones. Of these, only 41% adults are treated for their mental illness. Lack of funding is a huge issue.
So what does this have to do with marching on Washington? What if all 46 million people showed up in Washington at one time? I don’t think we’d all fit. However, if if enough of us are willing, potentially a couple million, to march on Washington? Marginalizing and blowing off that many people would be a difficult task.
Could we make a difference in how Americans think of mental illness? Could we help increase funding for mental illness and increase awareness by politicians other than the ones already making strides in mental health reform. Maybe but it’s worth a try.
I think a grassroots effort to bring all of us together can make a difference. Have our March not only be those with mental illness, but also their loved ones. The loved ones of those who have lost their lives related to mental illness.
I envision brain hats, amygdala posters, photos of those lost, and a handful of other protest paraphernalia. More importantly, having scores of people descending on the US Capitol would make an impact. Ignoring mental illness is difficult when several million of us are outside their windows.
Now where to start…