About Me

‘The Only Way To Eradicate Mental Illness Is To Talk About It’: Insights On Brain Health From The 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit

‘The Only Way To Eradicate Mental Illness Is To Talk About It’: Insights On Brain Health From The 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit

Image result for ‘The Only Way To Eradicate Mental Illness Is To Talk About It’: Insights On Brain Health From The 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: NFL Wide Receiver and Executive Chairman & Co-Founder of Project ... [+] 375, Brandon Marshall attends 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit at the Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Diseases of the brain continue to be taboo. Most stigmatized of all? Addiction and mental illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people with mental illness are perceived as difficult, unintelligent and incapable of making decisions. People with severe mental disorders die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population.
To tackle this grossly overlooked public health problem, the 8th Annual Forbes Healthcare Summit assembled an all-star panel of cultural, political and professional sports icons in a session titled, “Brain Health Matters: The Silent Stigma - Healing the Brain,” moderated by the host of The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
The Origin Story
Brandon Marshall, former NFL wide receiver, knew something was wrong when he dropped three consecutive footballs. For the average TV-viewing sports fan, dropping a few balls doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it sure was for Marshall, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2010 and admitted to McLean Hospital’s psychiatric ward. “The football field was my sanctuary.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: Founder of "The Kennedy Forum" and Former Congressman (D-RI) ... [+] Patrick J. Kennedy attends 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit at the Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Founder of The Kennedy Forum, was born into an iconic family – equally famous, perhaps, for its politics as its problems with addiction and mental illness.
“I was in rehab at age 17 for addiction,” said Kennedy, author of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction. “After my father’s death, I left Congress. It was the best thing for me.”
Charlamagne Tha God, radio personality and host of “The Breakfast Club,” openly discussed his early experiences with anxiety. “I was [officially] diagnosed with anxiety at age 31. But I’ve always had panic attacks.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: Mehmet C. Oz and Charlamagne tha God attend 2019 Forbes Healthcare ... [+] Summit at the Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Stigma and Other Obstacles
The pervasive social discrediting of mental illness was a recurring theme.
“The only way to eradicate mental illness is to talk about it.”
Charlamagne The God
The author of Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me, Charlamagne shared a moving story about his father who “dealt with mental illness all my life. But I only found out last year.” Shame, guilt and lack of awareness prevented his father from openly discussing his mental health issues.
Kennedy used the military to make his point. During a visit to Fort Bragg, NC, General Hugh Shelton explained the importance of mental health services for his soldiers. “If the military has figured it out, then why hasn’t corporate America?” asked the former Congressman.
Kennedy further expressed his disdain: “Not one insurance company provides equal access to mental health on par with medical and surgical care.” He continued: “The insurance system is not designed to treat people with mental illness. They cost too much because they don’t intervene early enough.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: Mehmet C. Oz, Charlamagne tha God, Patrick J. Kennedy, and Brandon ... [+] Marshall attend 2019 Forbes Healthcare Summit at the Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
Getty Images
The former House Representative and co-founder of Psych Hub, whose own father, Senator Ted Kennedy, died of a brain tumor, tied the nation’s stigma to his personal upbringing.
“We’re in such denial as a country. Just like my family.”
Treatment
Charlamagne, Kennedy and Marshall all agreed that treatment needs to be widely accessible. They also shared what treatment approaches worked for them.
For Charlamagne, “therapy, meditation and float therapy worked for me.”
Kennedy is a strong advocate for counseling, medications and 12-step programs, all of which benefited him.
Marshall discussed the five pillars: training, fuel (nutrition), mental fitness, recovery and team support (TRY).
As an internal medicine and addiction medicine physician who’s cared for many patients with mental illness, I firmly believe that treatment can be lifesaving. Medications (e.g. antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, etc.) as well as behavioral therapies can be very effective. Most of my patients, now on stable, long-term treatment, are living functional and productive lives.
Reasons to be Hopeful
Despite the widespread prevalence of mental illness and the harrowing moments experienced by the panelists, all three speakers were optimistic, and are proactively addressing this growing health problem.
Marshall’s face lit up when discussing Project 375, a nonprofit co-founded by the former New York Jets star and his wife, Michi Marshall, that aims to destigmatize mental illness through conversation and education. “We need to focus on the fundamentals of health” including nutrition and support systems.
Charlamagne believed that most people – his parents included – never had the tools to get the care they need and deserve. “We need to invest in our mental health.”
Speaking of investment, Kennedy passionately vocalized the stark contrast between funding for HIV versus mental illness. “We’re only spending $500 million for mental health issues compared to $24 billion for AIDS.”
“We need to launch NASA not into outer space but into *inner* space.”
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy
Kennedy asserted the importance of investing in neuroscience research: addiction, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. And he said we needed to reward insurance companies that cover these illnesses.
*****************
A common motto in my line of work is ‘The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connection.’ And this was certainly a recurring theme in this panel: the need for strong support systems. Find someone you trust who you can talk to: mother, cousin, colleague, teacher, priest. Then get the medical attention you need: primary care, psychiatrist, therapist, clinical social worker. I am also a firm believer in holistic health, akin to Brandon Marshall’s pillars: eat healthy and regular meals; get adequate sleep; do things you enjoy (exercise, travel, comedy, movies, etc.); and most importantly, surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. Together, we can replace the silence and stigma with mental wellness and success!

Post a Comment

0 Comments