My Lack-of-Life-Habits Research Manifesto

Manifesto: noun - a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.

Okay, it’s not really a manifesto. More like an extended gripe with a few suggested solutions. But the word manifesto sounds more dramatic. Right? Given the fact that I”m not a government, queen, or org, it’s definitely not a manifesto proper.

Question 1
Why don’t we ask the same questions of psych patients as we do “medical” patients? I feel that at some point we researchers are going to be forced to admit that we don’t really think of mental illness as actual physical illnesses. Otherwise, why aren’t there widely available commensurate surveys for psych patients such as the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey or the Sacramento Valley Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Survivor Survey? Some good news: Mad in America has joined forces with Florida State University in the first large-scale research survey informed by direct input from attempt-survivors. I am soooooo curious to know what’s asked in this survey!

Question 2
Why aren’t we giving depression/anxiety screenings at every encounter a school counselor, MD, RN, pastor, child care worker, or clinician? Deliberate self-harm is the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-34. If we were talking about Ebola, you can bet we would be instituting wide training for every person who who comes in contact with these age groups - including their parents and caregivers.

Question 3
Should grief and bereavement practices be taught (or groups provided) in K-12 schools?
We know that self-harm activity causes trauma to self-harm, suicide attempt, and suicide loss survivors. Why not talk about how to stay well instead of ignoring the need (which is clearly not working BTW). Why isn’t bereavement care a primary public health effort?

We can’t continue to perpetuate what we think (that mental illness is 100% mood related) without proof that our suppositions are correct… because hunches are not scientific proof. At some point we have to fess up to our own bias and start looking into the life-habits of people who have walked through hell and survived to live healthy lives. We need to know precisely what is making that happen. We need parity in research. That’s all I’m saying.

I am earnestly looking for carefully considered answers - not repeats of standard socio/psych perspectives.

Erica KitzmanComment