Guest post by Mike Veny, a professional drummer and entrepreneur who has had mental health issues since he was a child. In addition to performances, music lessons and music education involvement, he is a strong advocate for persons with mental illnesses. He will be speaking at the Florida Council for Community Mental Health Annual Conference on Aug. 8.
My mom was at her wits’ end. She didn’t know what to do with me. Finally one day she asked, “We keep telling you how you should be, but what do YOU want to be?” I told her I wanted to play drums all day. It was a turning point in my life.
She enrolled me in a performing arts school and life changed. I didn’t have behavior problems anymore and I even had a girlfriend. Music saved me.
Life was good from that point on. However, I learned that there are no quick fixes for mental health issues. It’s a life-long process. This past August my depression came back and I attempted suicide again. Right then and there I promised myself it would never happen again.
I knew that talking about it helped me, so I decided to become a mental health speaker. In addition, I am a drum circle facilitator for community mental health organizations. I came from the same place they did and have felt the same way they do. For me, this is therapy.
I also found three other ways to help with mental health prevention and treatment:
- Keeping it in the conversation.
People will talk about their tax returns, but they don’t often talk about depression or addictions. If we can get the topic of mental health out in the open it loses its stigma.
- Looking for teachable moments.
If someone you know is acting out, don’t ignore them. The person has a medical condition and needs help. Teach others around you to be safe, but not afraid.
If there is a family in crisis, reach out and help them. Assure them that they are not alone and there are so many ways to get help for themselves and their loved ones. Your actions may shape their opinion of mental health.
- Forming partnerships with businesses.
When businesses get involved in mental health prevention and treatment, it opens their eyes to services they could provide their employees. It’s just another way to reduce stigmas and help their community.