Persuasive Speech – Pro-Mental Health Screenings
- [Attention Getter] In November 2013, I was reported missing. I had gotten into my truck and driven it until it broke down in San Leandro, in the Bay Area. There, I abandoned it and wandered the streets of San Francisco and the surrounding area for over a week. My daughter was 3 years old, and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was in the midst of a very severe episode of dysphoric mania. I almost died during that week. I was mugged, a man punched me and broke my nose. I was psychotic, hearing voices, and became extremely paranoid. I threw my cell phone away and had no way of contacting anyone that I knew. I had no idea what was happening, and it was terrifying.
- [Thesis Statement] We need more mental health screenings in the USA, and we need them today.
- [Relevance Statement] This topic is relevant to you because so many people go undiagnosed for so many years and suffer greatly from the symptoms of very treatable mental illnesses.
- [Credibility Statement] I am qualified to speak on this subject because I, too, am mentally ill. I received my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Type 1 in late 2013 and have been living with this illness my entire life. Since my diagnosis and subsequent treatment and medication, life has become so much better. I’ve become stronger and am filled with a great desire to share the information that I have gathered with you, so that you may consider seeking a mental health screening yourself.
- [Preview of Main Points] Today I will discuss the problem, cause, and solution.
Connective: I will begin by discussing the problem.
I [Statement of the problem(s)] Not enough people in the United States are receiving the mental health care they need and are going undiagnosed and unmedicated.
- [Significance of the problem] This is a significant issue, because without proper therapy and medications, the mentally ill are suffering. Poverty, grades, holding down a job are all impacted by depression and other illnesses. Stigma plays a huge part in people being afraid to seek assistance. “A 2016 federal study found that nearly 45 million Americans had a mental illness of some sort” according to Edward D. Murphy’s article in the Portland Press Herald.
- [Harms] Suicide rates have been increasing, according to another Murphy article from the Sun Journal. “Mental health advocates say across the country suicide rates are up 24 percent since 1999.” Depression is a serious illness and should be treated as such. Suicidal ideation is something that I struggle with myself, and I have lost several friends personally to suicide. A woman named Amy Bleuel started a campaign called Project Semicolon. This project was simple, identify yourself as someone that has survived suicide or otherwise been impacted by suicide with a semicolon tattoo or jewelry. Amy died by suicide recently, at age 31. You know how they have those donation buttons on Facebook for your birthday to raise money for a charity? This year, I dedicated mine to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and raised over $500 for them. Not even the rich and famous are safe from the dangers of depression. We’ve lost Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and Chris Cornell in recent history.
- [Who the problem impacts] This problem impacts everyone. It impacts the mentally ill that are suffering, as well as their family, their friends, their coworkers, and their classmates.
Connective: Now that you understand the problem I will explain the causes of this problem.
II [Statement on the cause or causes of the problem] Several factors have led to this mental health care crisis.
- In the 1960s, Ronald Reagan began a process called “deinstitutionalization” in an attempt to curb government spending on mental health care, and in response to the creation of psychiatric medications for illnesses. Society had come to the conclusion that the mentally ill could be treated, and therefore would not need to be in an institution for the rest of their lives anymore. This sounds positive, right? I don’t want to live in an institution for the rest of my life. But the long-term effects of this deinstitutionalization have proved disastrous. “As a result, 2.2 million of the severely mentally ill do not receive any psychiatric treatment at all. About 200,000 of those who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are homeless. That’s one-third of the total homeless population. Ten percent are veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other war-related injuries.” Kimberly Amadeo writes in her article “Deinstitutionalization, Its Causes, Effects, Pros and Cons” published online in May 2018 by the Balance website. Basically, mental health treatment is underfunded, and often inaccessible or underutilized.
- In a study titled, “Psychiatric Disorders and Treatment in Low-Income Pregnant Women” published by the Journal of Women’s Health in 2010, Cook concluded, “With nearly one third of pregnant women meeting criteria for a 12-month psychiatric disorder and only one fourth receiving any type of mental health treatment, comprehensive psychiatric screening during pregnancy is needed along with appropriate treatment.” There is a distinct lack of screening that takes place in general, and one of the most critical populations is in pregnant women. When one goes through pregnancy, there are so many changes taking place in the body, the mind, one’s whole world changes. I know when I was pregnant, I was very moody. I didn’t have my diagnosis yet, so I was not yet taking medications that could affect fetal outcomes, but many can. If you are taking psychiatric medications and have plans to conceive, please talk to your doctor before proceeding. With a plan, it is possible to take good care of yourself and have a healthy pregnancy. It’s the period after my pregnancy that proved problematic for me. Many women experience postpartum depression, and I did, too. Mine spiraled out of control and wound up turning into a manic episode after many months of losing sleep. It turns out I am not alone in this. In her book, Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder, published in 2017, Dyane Harwood details her experience with Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. I was lucky enough to meet Dyane on Twitter, and she emailed me a PDF of her book. It turns out we shared a lot of similar experiences, and she has proven to be a wonderful connection in the mental health world. We are both open about our diagnosis online, seeking to help fight stigma.
- A lot of people are scared to talk about their mental health diagnosis because they are afraid of being judged by people who do not understand. In a 2011 study, Abrams and Curran found “Stigma around recognizing mental health concerns and seeking mental health care continues to be a challenging barrier to formal mental health care in several populations.” This stigma is perpetuated when people choose words poorly. When we joke about someone being “crazy” or an experience being “totally insane” we are actually hurting people. It’s an ableist stance to take and should be avoided. This stigma that surrounds mental illness doesn’t need to be there, and together we can make sure that our peers feel safe confiding in us, and in seeking help.
- Another big reason people do not seek treatment is a lack of health insurance. I’ve been there myself. I went eight years without health insurance, going to the dentist, any of it because I work as an independent contractor and it wasn’t really available to me. Since my breakdown, I’ve made less money, which has allowed me to qualify for Medi-Cal. As I continue to add to my wealth, I will need to switch to Covered California. There really are options now, even for those of us who live in poverty.
- Poverty affects mental health, and impoverished areas often lack access to care. Here in San Diego, we are lucky to have a few different options that I will get to shortly. It’s a sad fact that there are simply not enough services available for low-income people and finding the information itself can be difficult.
Connective: Now that you understand the problem and its causes I will explain the solution.
III. [State your solution(s)] The solution is to be proactive in getting yourself a mental health screening, especially if you are feeling off at all. The truth is, our country is in need of widespread healthcare reform, particularly mental health care reform. If you see a way to get involved and help out, please do so. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself first!
- [Explain what can be done and how can it be done] There are many resources available here in San Diego that can help with mental health screening. When I got back from Northern California, I immediately sought treatment for the severe symptoms I was experiencing. I’d like to share some of those resources with you.
- The Palomar Student Clinic offers Behavioral Health Counseling Services:
- https://www2.palomar.edu/pages/bhcs/ or search “BHCS”
- Up2SD.org is a useful website with information and resources local to San Diego.
- They have a Crisis Line (888) 724-7240.
- The Suicide Hotline is available 24/7.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Suicide Hotline.
- Not comfortable with calling? Text 741741!
- Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime, about any type of crisis.
- PERT – Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, pairs licensed mental health clinicians with uniformed law enforcement officers/deputies. DO NOT CALL 911 UNLESS THERE IS IMMEDIATE DANGER! Call the non-emergency line and request a PERT team. This is safer for the mentally ill person in crisis.
- (760) 839-4722 is the Escondido Police Department, or use your local police or sheriff line.
- Regional mental health clinics are a great resource. They are free and helped me apply for Medi-Cal.
- Central Region Mental Health on Morena Blvd. is where I went initially, and they can be reached at (619) 692-8750.
- Dial 211 to be connected to services in San Diego.
- Mood tracking apps like Daylio, Moodscope, eMood can help keep an eye on patterns in your mood and help alert you when you are heading towards a crisis.
- The Palomar Student Clinic offers Behavioral Health Counseling Services:
- [Explain why the solution is practical] These resources make up a practical solution, which is getting direct help and taking personal responsibility for our mental well-being. Shop for a therapist. Don’t be afraid to reject the first people you see. It’s important to have a good fit, someone that makes you feel heard and who will challenge you to get better.
- [Explain why the solution is desirable] It is desirable to receive a diagnosis as early as you can in order to work out a proper treatment plan with your psychiatrist or therapist. [In 2015, Hanson O’Haver phoned Johanna Jarcho, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health for an interview for Vice Magazine online. She said the vast majority of mental health disorders do emerge during one’s adolescence or early 20s] Even without an official diagnosis, therapy is a wonderful thing that can teach us emotional tools for interacting with the world at large. It’s nice to talk to an impartial adult, to gain clarity on our current situations and get to know ourselves. It’s much more desirable to know what you are dealing with than to experience a life-changing mental breakdown and have to learn the hard way, as I did.
Connective: In Conclusion, there are many resources available to help you. If you are considering harming yourself, please consider using one of these avenues to seek assistance. There is no shame in asking for help, and in fact, I only feel more empowered by sharing some of my story with you all here today.
- [Re-statement of the thesis] We need more mental health screenings in the USA, and we need them today.
- [Review Main points] Today I discussed the problem, the cause, and the solution.
- [Closing Remarks / Call to Action] Make the call, send the text, go to the student clinic, but do something. Get yourself a mental health screening today. It could save your life.
Abrams, L.S., & Curran, L. (2011). Maternal identity negotiations
among low-income women with symptoms of postpartum depression. Qualitative Health Research, 21(3), 373–385. https://doi.org/
Amadeo, Kimberly. “Learn About Deinstitutionalization, the Causes and the Effects.” The Balance, The Balance, 2018, http://www.thebalance.com/deinstitutionalization-3306067.
Cook, C. L., Flick, L. H., Homan, S. M., Campbell, C., McSweeney, M., & Gallagher, M. E. (2010). Psychiatric disorders and treatment in low-income pregnant women. Journal Of Women’s Health (15409996), 19(7), 1251-1262. Doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1854
Harwood, D. (2017). Birth of a new brain: Healing from postpartum bipolar disorder (pp.1-212). New York, NY: Post Hill Press.
Murphy, Edward D. “Increasingly, Maine Police on Front Lines for Mental Illness Interventions.” Press Herald, 15 July 2018, www.pressherald.com/2018/07/15/increasingly-police-cope-with-mental-health-calls/.
Murphy, Edward D. “Maine Police See Surge in Mental Health Calls.” Lewiston Sun Journal, 15 July 2018, http://www.sunjournal.com/maine-police-see-surge-in-mental-health-calls/.
O’Haver, Hanson. “Why Mental Health Disorders Emerge in Your Early 20s.” Vice, Vice, 29 Apr. 2015, http://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xd7g44/why-mental-health-disorders-emerge-in-your-early-20s-58477fa6e17bea0210307264.