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Mental Health issues do not discriminate? So why should we?

With the internet being flooded with discussions about mental health issues and related concerns, it is perhaps striking to see any discomfort towards the topic of mental health issues or towards people suffering from mental health issues.


This very divide is exemplified by the passing of a bill that would allow for a ‘mental health hotline number’-988 by Congress in the United States in 2020. This hotline number -988, is similar to the number 911 in the way that instead of connecting individuals to law enforcement agencies, it will connect people facing urgent mental health crises to mental health professionals and other specially trained individuals. It allows for the creation of call centers for the same, wherein people facing mental health emergencies can call the number and get subsequent and crucial help.


On paper, this seems like a much-needed solution to the ever-increasing rates of mental health issues being faced by individuals. Rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders and other mental health issues have been at an all-time high especially since COVID-19 hit and essentially made isolation the new norm. With social media and the mainstream media being more open-minded and bringing such conversations into more households, it is not surprising that such an initiative would benefit numerous lives.


However, here is where the divide comes in. Although the bill was passed by congress in 2020, the mental health hotline number is yet to launch on July 16, 2022. Surprisingly, the funding of this number was left up to the individual states. In the two years it has taken to enact this bill, many of the states in the United States have not allocated funding to this number. Only four states-Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Washington have created funding plans to allow this initiative to thrive. The other states with no funding in place for this initiative, have left mental health professionals and other trained specialists feeling unprepared and aghast at the lack of initiative. There have to be plans in place to set up the call center, to hire skilled and trained specialists and mental health professionals and for the resources that would be required to help in times of emergency as well.


The hypocritical view of this initiative brings into play a larger and scarier question-Does anyone truly care about the mental health of individuals? We see popular hashtags such as #mentalhealthawareness, #selfcare, #anxiety and so on in the mainstream media. The translation of these words into conversation in households has been treated as an urgent issue. Similarly, holding the mental health hotline number with the same urgency could potentially save several lives. This is a life-saving initiative, so why are states not rising to the occasion and holding true to their promise, as elected representatives, of protecting the citizens.


In recent years, there has been a rise in the acknowledgement of the sway that mental health issues hold on individuals. If we do not continue upholding each other in times of distress, the very infrastructure of society is doomed to destabilize and crumble. It is shocking to notice the contrast between support shown on social media and actions taken in real life. Where is the support of the states? Where is the support of the people to provide funding for this hotline number? Mental health issues do not discriminate. So why should we?

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