Wednesday, April 18, 2007

May Is Mental Health Month

Cho Seung-Hui was referred to a mental health facility in 2005 after officers responded to accusations he was suicidal and having inappropriate contact with female students, police said Wednesday. (

With media coverage now centering on the life of Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-Hui and especially his mental health, I have heard TV talking heads, read blog posts, and received emails warning that we must beware of people whole are possibly mentally ill--people who could be described as being loners, quiet, friendless; people who may express anti-societal, "dark" or politically incorrect notions. It rather reminds me of the same frenzy that occurred following the September 11th attacks when Muslims and folks of presumed Middle Eastern ethnicity were targeted by frightened Americans.

I believe that it is important that people do not over react in a Salem-like witch hunt for folks who suffer from one of the numerous forms of mental illness. The best way to do this seems to be to provide accurate information.

May is Mental Health Month and May is close enough that the few links below can begin the education process that the month is designed to provide. Please gather the facts and spread them far and wide that, for example, people who suffer from some form of depression are not homicidal.

This is personal for me. As you know if you've read Nick's Bytes for very long, I'm one of those who suffers from clinical depression and I am not a killer. And I do not relish the idea of someone bashing me in the head with a baseball bat (as was done to one of my Sufi friends immediately after 9-11 because he wore a turban) because I am melancholy!

As always, I appreciate your comments and feedback.


Virginia Tech Tragedy: Tips for Educators, Students and Parents from Mental Health America

The Bare Facts on Mental Illness from the World Health Organization

Policy Issues A-Z
from Mental Health

Mental Health Care in the Developing World from Psychiatric Times

Depression Screening Test from


  1. Great post, Nick. There's good information there. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the reminder and the info, Nick! I'm learning a lot more about depression/anxiety issues and how my own psychiatric treatment has to change based on my physical condition! My radiation oncologist is very intelligent about it. She understands that one can be dysthymic or perhaps suffers occasional (or even frequent) long- or short-term bouts of depression, but she made it very clear to me that she has the experience to confer with my psychiatrist to have me on the meds to get me through cancer treatment. She firmly yet gently assured me there's no shame in the changes in my moods, fears, feelings, etc. and to have no fear about it because she (the oncologist), my psychiatrist and I are all going to be involved in the conversation and treatment. What a great practitioner!

    I typed that long story just to show that obviously, your prayers and the prayers of others in the blogosphere, my family and my friends are working!!! Thanks!

  3. Good points, Rev. Saint Nick. As usual, you are saying what needs to be said.

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  5. I have bipolar and insomnia. I've had them as long as I can remember. I'm one of the 'undiagnosed' too. So long as it doesn't affect my life (too much, times of extreme stress don't count), then its just another quirk I have.

    I have been through the cycles so often that I know now. I know what to expect. I know that the lows only last so long. Its part of how I coped with what's happened recently. I got thrown into a low. So low I don't know how I came out of it. Other than the knowledge that it would be better tomorrow, I had nothing.

    I also know how to recognise when I need help. I hate that feeling. I don't want to be medicated. And I always resist. That feeling pulls me back into the low.

    But I know that if I have to, I will.

  6. Hi Nick ~~ Interesting post. That young man needed help, but what a tragedy for his family and the families of so many innocent lives.

    Glad you liked the story Breakfast at
    McDonalds. Many times over my life I have said "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
    Take care, Nick, Regards, Merle.

  7. I suffer from depression & anxiety- which go hand-in-hand sometimes. There were times where I thought about taking my own life- but never the thought of someone else's. I got the help I needed, and I feel those depressive states come on from time to time, but with help from family and friends and a good counselor, I'm trying to get a grip on it all. I am not a threat to society, however, sometimes I will isolate myself, while having many friends and family waiting.