October 10, 2018

Personal involvement and perspective often drive certain individuals to make a special effort to facilitate change. In this regard, I think of several people who have dedicated their lives after personal experience aroused a passion for a particular cause.

I think in particular of Emma Gonzalez and her surviving schoolmates who have devoted their recent actions to highlighting the unimaginable tragedy of lives lost in the Parkland High School killing of twelve of their classmates. Their determination and persistence in advocating for change in our gun laws has really provided the momentum in our country for having success in reducing gun violence. I think also of Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly who, after Gabby’s shooting in Tucson and after years of rehab for Gabby, launched their effort to fight gun violence in response to the horrific killing of twenty children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Personal experience with mental health tragedy can also be an impetus to fight for change. I am thinking in particular of the great effort that former New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice John Broderick has been making in combating the “stigma” of mental illness in our state. Justice Broderick has been impelled on this journey after experiencing a horrendous assault by his son several years ago. Justice Broderick’s son eventually received appropriate diagnosis and treatment in the State Prison, but Broderick feels his son’s undiagnosed problems actually started when he was 13 or 14 years old. Justice Broderick has been speaking around the state presenting his talk entitled “We need to talk: Mental Health.” He blames his own ignorance about mental illness as a major factor in his son’s assault, and he wants to help educate others about the signs that need to be recognized of an impending mental illness. He emphasizes in his talk that more than half of mental illness problems begin by about age fourteen, in early adolescence.

Justice Broderick highlights the “Five Signs of Mental Illness” that have been promoted by the great website and movement for change in mental health awareness and actions of the ChangeDirection.org initiative. Please check out their website at http://www.changedirection.org/.  The five signs of mental illness are: personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness.   

Regards,

Leonard Korn, MD
NHMS President