Everywhere I turn there is another reference to mental health issues, not only in print media, but the reference to and inclusion of mental health topics is now prevalent on our television screens. I tend to watch the detective and police shows, and mental health story lines are often woven into the suspense-filled plots. One show in particular, “Equalizer” on CBS, has been dealing with PTSD, being very clear about the seriousness of the condition and the need to seek professional help. Surprisingly, it is not a returning veteran who is battling this condition as one might assume, but rather the teenage daughter of the main character who has experienced the brutal death of her best friend. The sitcom makes is very clear that anyone can experience PTSD and we all need to understand that PTSD is not only real, but also a condition that needs help. It is not something with which one wants to mess around, but rather one should seek professional guidance to get through the mental and emotional challenges caused by PTSD. It is a serious condition. If left untreated it can cause real upheaval and even ruin one’s life. It can lead to suicide. What I loved about this particular script was that in a very kind, gentle, but firm way, it made it very clear that even the strongest of people need help from professionals at given times in their lives, that even someone who appears to have it all together and have all the answers to life may at some point in his/her life require some help to get back on track. Needing help and asking for it has nothing to do with personal strength or weakness. Needing help and asking for it has to do with someone taking control of his/her own path and deciding to live the best life possible.
To get knocked down by life’s challenges is normal. To be willing to do what you need to do in order to pick yourself up is exceptional and means you are strong, resourceful, and smart. Sharing that information with others is kind and loving, thoughtful and considerate.
What I also liked is that the main character, a really strong bad-ass former CIA operative played by Queen Latifah, made it very clear to her daughter that even she has needed professional help in order to sort out some rough patches. What an amazing gift to her child. Through one simple nod of her head, she let her child know that it is okay to be imperfect. She let her child know that imperfect people can still be cool and successful and happy. She let her child know that the person she loved and admired most in the world, the person she knows has it all together, needed to reach out to get professional help at one time or another, AND her mom was not embarrassed to share that information, which then let her child know that there is nothing to be embarrassed about when asking for help.
Our job as parents is to give our kids the tools they will need to travel through life. There is no better tool that a parent can provide than making imperfection normal and part of the journey.
National Alliance on Mental Health
National Institute on Mental Health