Some of us may believe that responsibility is overseeing our own desires and actions. We leave it up to others to be the givers and doers. We may feel like no one gave us anything or everyone is in it for themselves. Many times I have heard others and myself saying that, “self-sufficiency should be the most important priority”. But is it really? Are we responsible only to ourselves?
We may have that one family member/friend that allows us to boast that we are the voice for the voiceless; the eyes for the blind; the ears for the deaf. That level of responsibility is measurable and exists mostly to make us feel good about ourselves. Everyone knows the power of producing good karma and the law of giving. But advocating for those battling a mentally illness is more challenging and much less thankful. The kind of responsibility I’m referring to is social responsibility.
Social responsibility comes from feeling an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. It is a duty every individual should perform to help bring balance to their life and the lives of others less fortunate. When it comes to helping someone with mental health challenges, providing them with a dependable support system is essential. Many mental disorders go undiagnosed because the sufferer is simply unaware their symptoms aren’t normal. The difference between a successful treatment plan or denial is the responsibility we commit to help.
Those battling mental illnesses might feel that they need to internalize the problems they’re having for fear others won’t understand, or they might not see the pattern of dysfunction their behavior is causing in their everyday life. It’s vital for friends and family members to speak up when they see a problem because that’s often the only way a person will realize the need for help. So, let’s pay it forward or give it back, whichever works best for each of us.
While it’s important to encourage adults to get help after an official mental health diagnosis is received, chances are recovery won’t happen right away. Many disorders, particularly those that have been undiagnosed for a long period, respond better to long-term treatment than short-term methods. Some medications take weeks to become effective, and lifestyle changes might take even longer. It’s important to understand long-term healing requires commitment and patience, and to continue taking responsibility for them can be frustrating due to not seeing positive changes soon enough.
Additionally, it’s estimated at least 20 percent of teens and adolescents meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder. Teens who are struggling with the symptoms of a mental illness are often afraid to speak out for fear of being judged by their peers or parents. If you know a teenager you believe is affected by a mental illness, the most important thing you can do is encourage them to talk to you about what the perceive as a problem and you connect with the next level of support needed to help
Many of us take comfort in the cliché that charity begins at home, therefore many of us go about our day thinking we will go visit a friend, relative, a shut-in or someone in the hospital or jail – when we have time. Then the time passes, the day is gone, and we are still waiting to have time to visit. Sometimes our lack of taking responsibility marks the end of life for the helpless and/or the hopeless.
The lyrics to this song created to teach children about the importance of responsibility, sums up everything we need to understand and practice:
When something needs to be done I do it,
If I make a mistake I own up to it,
And when I talk my talk, I walk my walk.
And when I give my word, I keep my word.
That’s the way I‘m responsible, that’s the way I am true —
Not just to you, but to myself too.
I don’t make excuses, complain, or blame
Taking care of myself, helping out is my aim
And when I talk my talk…
When I’m responsible, I get more freedom, more choice.
When I’m responsible, then people listen to my voice.
They don’t have to worry about me, they can count on me.
I do my share in my family, and in my community.
I treat my life as a precious gift,
I follow my dreams, I don’t go adrift,
Diana Stinson advocates for the fair and unbiased treatment for everyone, including those with a psychological condition/diagnosis. She believes those diagnosed with any form of mental illness should be treated respectfully and receive the same high quality health care afforded to others. She has worked diligently to help her son and speak up for those who have no voice and are feeling the sting of discrimination for reasons beyond their control.
Diana is currently an instructor of Computer Information Systems at Southwest Virginia Community College. She has a Master of Science in Education from Old Dominion University in May 2000. Much of her studies were in the field of workforce development within the Occupational and Technical Studies for Community College Teachers curriculum.
Diana, her family, and especially her son’s family have endured and are continuing to experience. Although, the psychological disorder of bipolar and/or manic depression is at the root of this issue, the broken community service, mental health, and criminal justice systems drastically increased the hardship.