To the editor:
Believe it or not, there is a movement of some size and substance in this country, dedicated to decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness. It consists of annual walks in many American cities, in which thousands publicly declare their support for friends and loved ones battling this form of illness.
It consists of high-profile celebrities publicly identifying and declaring their support for the cause of mental health. It consists of an ever-growing number of books and films written and produced by survivors, and those who have encountered them.
The reality is that the medicine is getting better, and that if we can get past the fear, more people will get help.
Even so, days like this can be tough. The news media is filled with the very opposite perspective. We are encouraged to demonize those very people we should be seeking to help, and to look askance at those who are suffering.
The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is of enormous proportions, not only for the students and community directly affected, but for children and parents elsewhere, who must come to terms with what has taken place on the most hallowed grounds of a school building.
In the process, it stands to set back another population as well — the thousands working so very hard to get better, to show up for therapy, and to improve their own mental health. They, too, face this day with an increased personal burden.
So maybe today, more than ever, is a time to stand strong. To say that mental illness is a fault of chemistry, not character. And that with a steady hand, a little determination, and a well-founded belief in modern medicine, progress can be made.