Viewpoint: Mental health in Montana needs work
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Rising suicide rates, rampant homelessness, “deaths of despair,” teenage depression, and what has been called “a nationwide plague of loneliness”: the state of America’s mental health in 2023 is, in a word, grim.
Here in Montana, crisis services are underfunded, mental health agencies are understaffed, and the most common treatment facility for persons with mental illness is the detention center.
For all the recent advances in psychiatric medications, therapies, and treatments of various kinds, we seem unable to make headway when it comes to understanding mental illness; worse, we seem unable to improve the lives of those affected by such disorders.
The consequences of untreated mental illness ripple through the entire community: disrupted families, interrupted schooling, unemployment, poverty, addiction, homelessness, and suicide. No neighborhood remains untouched; mental illness does not respect race, gender, age, social status, or income level.
Since 1949, May has been designated nationwide as “Mental Health Awareness Month”. While we appreciate the spotlight, NAMI Missoula wants our friends and neighbors not just to be aware of mental health issues, but to translate awareness into action.
We invite them to join with us and our many community partners in addressing the struggles of those who live with mental illness and whose only crime is to have a debilitating brain disorder.
Do not let them struggle alone. May is “Mental Health Awareness Month”; awareness may be only the beginning—but let’s begin.