A Healthy Conversation

“The Little Orange Fish mission is to work with the research, education and medical communities to ensure that:

  • There is a greater emphasis put on medically relevant mental health research
  • The knowledge from this research is put into medical practice
  • Every individual can feel comfortable seeking essential mental health care and
  • Every individual can feel confident that they can get timely access to high-quality mental health care.

The vision is that through research and education, better quality mental health care with greater continuity of care can be made accessible to all. Realizing this vision will do much more than save lives by reducing acts of violence and self-harm. It will also greatly enhance the quality of life for the tens of millions in the US, and the hundreds of millions worldwide, who suffer in silence from a variety of emotional and mental health issues.”

That message is from a post I wrote nearly 5 years ago (Mental health care is EVERYONE’S concern).  Today the mission and vision remain unchanged. While some progress has been made in their direction, I feel that we’re still impeded by an inadequate appreciation of what mental health is, and what it means to each of us as individuals and to the communities we live in. I think there may just be too many barriers, from the persistence of ‘stigma’, to the constant “breaking news” where issues related to mental health are just fleeting, oversimplified stories usually focused on catastrophic events. There are very few platforms where the full scope of issues can be talked about openly and honestly, where we can have a truly healthy conversation.

I’m Daniel Adamek, founder and executive director of Little Orange Fish. I’m starting this blog, not as a mental health expert –  I don’t have those credentials –  but rather as a citizen advocate for mental health education and awareness. For my purposes, I’m loosely using ‘education’ to mean an understanding of the impacts of mental health, illness, and care,  and ‘awareness’ to mean an understanding of what is going on in terms of culture, policy, and the availability and accessibility of resources.   My hope is to encourage a reasoned and persistent conversation about mental health and what it means to us as individuals and to the communities we live, work and socialize in.

I’m going to try to accomplish this by doing something of a review of current events each week.  Part of my everyday morning routine is to read fresh articles about various aspects of mental health and health care from around the internet. These can be stories in mainstream media or articles that land in my inbox via Google alerts.  I occasionally share some of these stories through social media, when the message is consistent with the messaging of Little Orange Fish. Frequently though, I read stories that have interesting talking points, absolutely pertinent to the conversation that we need to be having, but I don’t share them because those points may not be wholly in line with the LOF messaging that we’ve worked so hard to shape and convey.  It’s a real shame because sometimes these stories better represent the prevailing thoughts of a significant part of our community. I invariably find myself having this inner dialogue where I’m challenging the premises of a story or sometimes just wishing the author had more explicitly clarified and distinguished their observations from their assumptions. While I do run down rabbit holes trying to understand all I can to reconcile the differing perspectives, this clearly isn’t the best way to challenge and correct my own misconceptions and biases,  and it certainly does very little to encourage ‘reasoned and persistent conversation about mental health’.

So here I am. I plan to be here each week airing out that inner dialogue.  I encourage you to give me your feedback, be it support, alternate perspectives or criticism.  That’s what it means to me to have a healthy conversation.

‘A strong community is built of healthy individuals and
good health starts with a healthy mind’