During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses.
Here’s what I mean – they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care. That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4.
Robin Williams’ tragic and untimely death after a decades-long battle against bipolar disorder reminds us that mental illnesses are all-too-often serious and life-threatening chronic diseases.
Mental illnesses—especially serious ones—rob us of our health and well-being. They present daily challenges that can sometimes overwhelm us. No one is immune to them. And no matter how many resources they have or how successful they may appear to be, they may not ultimately be able to overcome them.