As WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reported, Massachusetts attorney general (and gubernatorial candidate) Martha Coakley is calling for the state to build “a behavioral health system for the 21st century.” Coakley spoke this morning to the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans. She recalled her brother, Edward, who began to struggle with depression at 17 and committed suicide at 33. We asked her office for the prepared text of her speech; it is excerpted below.
“…Which brings us to the third great challenge that I would like to pose to everyone today – improving access to quality behavior health care for everyone who needs it.
This is no small challenge.
There are millions of families dealing with the effects of mental illness across our country.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, one in four adults suffers from a mental disorder in any given year. It’s probably higher.
And in a time when soldiers have returned from two separate wars, studies have shown that 20% of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans report symptoms of PTSD or major depression. It’s also most likely higher.
On Veterans Day, I learned that there are 22 suicides a day by veterans.
Some of you may know that my family dealt with the impact of mental illness.
My younger brother Edward was a brilliant person – he was smart, funny, a great pianist. He also suffered from depression, onset around 17 or so.
He struggled with it for much of his adult life, and my family struggled with how to help him.
When he was 33 years old, he committed suicide.
My parents had died just 1 and 3 years earlier. It was difficult for me and my sisters.
It is why I know first-hand – as many of you do – that behavior health care is as vital to the treatment of many patients as physical health care. Continue reading