Just Say Yes!

Just say yes!

By Rev. Paul N.Papas II

Thu Apr 02, 2009, 05:03 PM EDT Framingham Tab

For years we’ve heard the phrase used for more than one campaign, “Just say No.” Today I am asking you to just say Yes! I am asking you to stand up and say yes to help when you can fill a need.

I heard a radio spot that suggested you could help someone heal by being a friend. The radio spot gave examples how when people cared and gave a helping hand people with the medical condition of a mental illness their recovery was significantly increased. When people say yes I care, lives are improved.

Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. I don’t know of anyone who woke up one day and said: I think I’ll have a mental illness today. A mental illness is not contagious; you can touch and it won’t rub off.

The other day a wife called her husband on his cell phone. She wanted to warn him that there was a travel advisory broadcast on the TV that someone was going the wrong way on the highway. He said they were wrong, there were hundreds. Sometimes we don’t see what should be plain to us and we need a little help. This wife just said yes.

The World Health Organization says that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are mental disorders.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) reports that by 2020 Major Depressive Illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.

Although a mental illness can strike at any age, it usually strikes people in their prime of their lives.

Without treatment individuals and society pay a high price in such things as unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide, and wasted lives. The economic cost alone on untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.

NAMI has fought for years to have a mental illness covered by health insurance in an equal manner as any other medical issue. Finally Congress just said yes and approved this equality in October of 2008 and President Bush signed it into law.

It is really important to bring everyone to the table on major issues such as mental health and abuse. Just say yes to help those who need help.

I am not suggesting throwing dollars at it is the answer. I am suggesting a return to helping your neighbor.

At one time we knew our neighbors; we knew when there was a need and helped where we could. Today we barely know the person living next door. We should be more like the wife who called her husband on his cell phone while he was driving on the highway to warn him.

It is also important to include our faith communities at the table as they make great advocates for the disadvantaged, the disabled, and the abused. They know the communities they serve in ways others don’t.

Times are only going to get tougher as the economy worsens. People are downsizing out of need. Sharing housing and other resources will increase. Stress levels are rising. Stress is the cause of many physical, mental, and emotional problems. We need to just say yes to understanding, patience, and helping our neighbor where we can.

We need to find ways to educate as many people as possible about the need to help those who are afflicted with a mental illness or abuse and the consequences of failing to act.

Let’s say yes to finding new ways to work together to get through the tough times. Let’s start with a hello and a smile.

The Rev Paul N. Papas II is a pastoral counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in Massachusetts and Arizona), founder of the Family Renewal Center and current president of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, support groups for consumers in Marlboro and Framingham , and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May www.narrowpathministries.org, www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org, and www.namigreaterframingham.org.

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