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Mental health matters. Communities across the country have been embracing this notion by hosting conversations to increase understanding and awareness of mental health. One year ago, the city of Albuquerque, NM held a bilingual dialogue about mental health that involved hundreds of English and Spanish speaking residents in identifying next steps to address the mental health needs of young people in their community.
Silence=Death. That phrase was used by the advocacy group ACT UP to end the silence about the AIDS crisis in the United States. This is no less true for the issue of viral hepatitis, which claims the lives of 12,000-18,000 Americans each year.1 Our inactivity can fuel the spread of viral hepatitis—viruses which are largely preventable. The Department of Health and Human Services has long acknowledged hepatitis as a hidden epidemic with significant public health consequences:
In the United States, the number of people who die by suicide each year is double the number who die by homicide. In the past year in this country, 8.5 million adults seriously considered suicide, 2.4 million made a suicide plan, and 1.1 million attempted suicide.1 The good news is that suicide can be prevented if people can get the help they need in time.
Suicide is a serious and preventable public health issue. But if we are unaware of the signs and risk factors associated with suicide, someone close to us—a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or a neighbor—might be at risk for suicide. As individuals and communities, we can reduce suicide rates if everyone plays a role in suicide prevention.
The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention provides a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention that’s coordinated across national, state, and local organizations and systems. However, the Strategy is only useful if it’s put in the hands of people who can affect change—the community.
A recent survey in North Carolina found depression rates among United Methodist clergy were twice as high as the general public1. The researchers suggest that unique demands of the job, including job stress, guilt about not doing enough, and doubts about one’s call to the ministry put clergy mental health at risk. While many factors undoubtedly contribute, there might be another possible explanation – the trauma that clergy encounter on a daily basis.