What’s the Most Neglected Topic of 2014?

In his Sunday column of the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof offers his suggestions for the “Most Neglected Topic” of 2014. There is certainly a lot to choose from: political battles that shut down the government, ongoing war in the Middle East, lack of functionality of the ACA website.

In the opinion of Kristof, however, we aren’t paying enough attention to mental health issues in this country. And he shares similar views to comments I observed in Tuesday’s CFYM post. Both Kristof and commenters suggested that the media bears some responsibility for the problem. When the media does cover mental health issues, they do so in a negative light exasperating the issue of stigma and ultimately keeping people from seeking help for a mental health condition.

We agree with Kristof that we need to break the taboos associated with mental health conditions. All over this country peers and their family and friends are living in silence. That notion in and of itself is a shame, since mental health conditions are treatable. People do recover and lead productive lives – lives that include healthy relationships, careers if they want them, community attachments, and sustainable living arrangements.

Mr. Kristof suggests several options for improving mental health care, from providing more peer support, to early intervention for children. So while Kristof ended his op-ed piece asking readers to submit their thoughts on what they feel is the most neglected issues of 2014, we’re going to agree with Kristof that under-served delivery of mental health care is the most neglected topic for 2014, and ask for your ideas on what you think are the best ways to improve access to quality mental health care in 2014.

Your Turn

  • How can your community improve the delivery of mental health care?
  • What can you personally do to see changes are made in the delivery of mental health care in your community?

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Stephen Bonin
Stephen Bonin

"It Takes a Village" is a phrase made popular after Hillary Rodham Clinton's book was published. I think that people who offer resources unite well in my community. First, our 5-day-a-week newspaper publishes a half page of short paragraphs of many help agencies in our city of 25,0000-plus. The announcement of our DBSA meetings is included their. 2. Small town newspapers in the surrounding area have accepted our news releases. 3. A community college staffer called about a student experiencing depression. 4.Although we are few in number, we members of DBSA regularly talk about the wealth of resources outside of the meetings and disseminate information. 5. One member was a journalist and English teacher before his mood disorder ceased his ability to be a career man. Having worked hard in CBT, he has received encouragement from his psychologist that he has an important voice that needs to be heard in the community. So, this member carefully reads the daily newspaper stories for any opportunities to make points to the editor. 6. The website I gave in my signup is my church, which recently added a section of community resources that include the government mental health clinic ADAPT. A member is discerning the proper time to talk to his pastor about including DBSA information on the site as well. 7. This same Catholic DBSA member is also carefully reading the Dallas Diocese newspaper and writing responses to that editor to signal need for improvement. For example, the diocesan newspaper carried a short story with photo of Pope Francis' concern about people with disabilities. Actually, as the photo shows him greeting a woman in a wheel chair, the story focuses on prioritizing wheelchair access to all the churches. This member quickly pointed out to that editor that people with disabilities have different, types, and that we need to see stories about the church's effort to educate, understand more, and advocate,

Stephen Bonin
Stephen Bonin

I touched a key, and that caused the prost prematurely! I was set to point out that those are examples of current happenings--communications wise. The improvement I will argue for is: in the local newspaper actual stories connected to mental health issues (so, going beyond the announcements.

Our DBSA, group, starting 10th year, has stayed stable, though small. We focus on the issues and on each other in our meetings. Our president believes in not pushing the local media to do more. There will be a time, So we kindly thank those who do anything to help, including the Episcopal priest, who gave us our free space 10 years ago!

Our president has helped ups understand that the group will grow when we are ready. A time and a place for everything.. We must not blame anybody for anything; we do the best we can. We invite people, and if they do not show up, we continue to focus on our own recovery. One member has testified that he owns a new assurance about not going inpatient this year because of steadiness in sessions with his psychologist since 2006. Time is of the essence.

One more mention for now. Regarding advocacy, one of the DBSA members who has been mentioned already in the previous post, did a strong advocacy last year. After meeting with a banker, he felt an agonizing pain in his side. When the ambulance picked him up, the communication by the attendee while en route to the ER mentioned "anxiety issues". He has hunches about how that happened because he DOES have a diagnosis.

The sadness of this story is that once in an ER room, the chief doctor barged in and blurted, "Well, you sure picked an expensive way to get here!", implying that our member was having psychosomatic symptoms.

Over the course of four to six months, our member remained focused sending emails and meeting with the hospital administrator until, finally, he achieved a mediation meeting with the hospital administrator, and the ER chief doctor..

The ER doctor learned that he had made a grave mistake assuming.

careforyourmind moderator

We couldn't agree more. Change begins at home. Presenting mental health issues as a public health issue that demands the same attention as other health issues by our local legislative and policy decision makers can often be one of the most effective ways to ensure more access to quality mental health services for everyone.


My community can begin to improve the delivery of mental health care by first acknowledging that it exists and is a problem that needs to be addressed effectively. I can start writing my local officials and community organizations to make them aware of the the inattention surrounding this issue and empower the people that it affects. 


One way I  think my community can improve the delivery of mental care is to screen for things like depression in the emergency room when people come in for help; i.e. the Beck Depression screen is a recognized screening tool, as is SBIRT, a recognized tool utilized for substance use disorders. In terms of what I can personally do, I am presently being trained in the WRAP training for peer support (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan). It is recognized by SAMHSA on the national registry of evidence based care. This means that when I do serve in peer support, I use a method that has been tested and known to be successful.