Photo: @womenshealthmag. Image courtesy of Instagram.

Monday Mood News: Is Mental Health a Political Issue?

June 5, 2017

We love when members of the media will take up the mantle of mental health. The more voices raised in support of awareness, education, and assistance starts much-needed conversations and reduces stigma. We’re particularly proud of our friends over at Women’s Health magazine, particularly Editor-in-Chief Amy Keller Laird, who not only encourages this type of content within the magazine and its social media outreach but walks the talk by putting herself on the front lines of the conversation.

Keller Laird wrote a beautiful op-ed piece for Huffington Post which we encourage you to read. Entitled “Why Mental Health Care Has Become Political,” she delves into the choice Women’s Health made to address mental health in a recent Instagram post in response to the destruction of the American Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare,) in exchange for the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA.) Staffers, including Keller Laird (as seen in the photo above,) opened up about their own diagnoses in defense of the 51% of the women currently insured under the ACA, women who would be priced out of their insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

The staff were met with mixed reactions, two of which concerned Keller Laird enough to write a piece for HuffPo: one commenter wrote that she thought the staff revealing diagnoses to be “embarrassing,” while another stated it wasn’t Women’s Health’s place to get into politics, that mental health was not a political issue. Keller Laird disagreed, and her argument is brilliant and worth of sharing. The in-depth defense of how mental health is most definitely part of a political discussion is fantastic, one we support entirely. Her heartfelt defense of the stigma around diagnoses is also particularly on point:

“As for Women’s Health editors sharing their own mental-health diagnoses, I feel saddened that anyone would consider this ’embarrassing,'” wrote Keller Laird. “This type of thinking leads to stigma that actually makes mental conditions worse, even physically. Women with mental illnesses have an increased risk for chronic medical conditions such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, lost earnings—a collective $193.2 billion a year—and a high incidence of suicide.

These illnesses are real, and brushing sufferers off as self-indulgent or weak can lead women to blame themselves for a health problem that experts say they have no more control over than if they had a heart condition or cancer.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. We salute Amy Keller Laird and the entire team at Women’s Health for their tireless support of women as whole beings who are worthy of feeling and being their best — body, soul, AND mind. We look forward to more conversations like these and to a day where mental health is no longer considered “embarrassing,” a day we look forward to with hope and grace.