By Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD (Assoc. Exec. Director, APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office)
The tragic death of Robin Williams reminds us that mental health and substance abuse problems are complex and serious. Although treatment works and individuals recover, many struggle to overcome the stigma of mental illness and find a provider and get into treatment. Mental health and substance abuse conditions are sometimes long-term and require active efforts throughout the lifespan. For some, suicidal thoughts are a part of their mental health challenges, so that awareness in order to prevent suicide is essential.
One key way to help is for family and friends to reach out, be available, and not judge. For those in pain, communicating – reaching out to trusted – others and talking about problems – is critical. Further, developing social supports and helping individuals find positive options to relieve the pain of depression and mental health conditions are an on-going task. For friends and families, learning about these problems and how you can be supportive are crucial. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, get help at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Learn more at APA’s website about how to help someone in an emotional crisis, and find out more about mental illness and substance abuse at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.
For more on Robin Williams, you can read Dr. Elaine Ducharme’s post on APA’s Your Mind Your Body blog.
Additional relevant resources:
Suicide warning signs
APA Psychology Topic: Suicide
APA Psychology Topic: Depression
Image source: Flickr