Mental Illness Is No Different by Margaret Greenberg

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I’m on a mission to challenge biases — conscious and unconscious.

It was the spring of 1983, my boyfriend, who later became my husband, shared some distressing news with me. His mother had just been hospitalized at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD.

“When are you going down to visit her?” I asked.

“My dad doesn’t want me to go,” he replied. (Years later I would learn that his dad thought he was protecting his son.)

“Would you visit your mom if she was hospitalized with a heart attack or breast cancer?” I asked.

“Of course,” he replied.

“Would you visit your mom if she was hospitalized for a surgery?” I prodded.

“Of course,” he replied.

“Then why aren’t you going to hop in your car and visit her?” I argued.

The proverbial light bulb went off. He took time off from work and hopped in his car to visit his mom six hours away at NIMH.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. About four weeks after being discharged from the hospital she died by suicide.

Call to action

Please treat mental illness like any other disease. Visit your friend or loved one who is hospitalized or suffering at home. Send cards. Pick up the phone. Express your love. Listen with compassion.

Don’t remain silent. You need support, too. Tell your close friends, colleagues, and/or family if your spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, or other family member is suffering from mental illness, just as you would if he or she had a heart attack or were diagnosed with cancer. Of course, just as you would with any illness, ask their permission first.

Until we can both act and talk about mental illness like we do any other illness, we will never remove the stigma and get the support and compassion we all need to heal. Will you join me?



This post was originally written by Margaret H. Greenberg and titled, “What if We Treated Mental Illness like Any Other Illness?”, and first appeared on LinkedIn.” Margaret’s bio is impressive: “I am a writer, executive coach, speaker, workshop leader, and veteran entrepreneur who is so grateful that I get to do what I love every day. I get to coach amazing leaders, write about topics I care deeply about, and travel to interesting places giving talks and workshops at Google and other companies, associations, and universities around the world. I’m the co-author, with my dear friend and colleague Senia Maymin, of the Amazon best seller Profit from the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business (McGraw-Hill Professional) which is now available in ChineseJapanese and Korean. Last year our book was developed into a Certificate Program which is rated among the top 11 positive psychology courses you can take online. Both Senia and I graduated from the inaugural Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania more than a decade ago and are also the Positive Work columnists for Live Happy Magazine. I also occasionally write for Forbes WomanPositive Psychology News, and the Association for Talent Development. My other LinkedIn blog posts can be found here. Please click “Follow” if you enjoy my posts and connect with me on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter @ProfitBook.”

7 Responses

  1. Marilyn Oldenburg
    | Reply

    I lost my son Steve he died by suicide April 23 / 15. He was 28yrs old. I think the medication made him suicidal. He d I d have anxiety really bad, but he wasn’t depressed.I blame the medication and the doctors not keeping a close enough eye on the symptoms.

  2. Bon Swade
    | Reply

    Thank you for the article. My husband and I facilitate a support group for those whom have lost a loved one to suicide and started a non profit called SASS-MoKan. I would like to share the article if that is okay. Let me know.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Send me an email through the “Contact me” section and let’s chat about what you would like. 🙂

    • Margaret H. Greenberg
      | Reply

      You and your husband are doing important and meaningful work. I would love to learn more.

  3. Cathy Van Berkem
    | Reply

    Proud of your leadership on this dear. You and Neal have taken your painful experiences to help others. You always do.

    • Margaret H. Greenberg
      | Reply

      Thank you Cathy. It’s taken a long time, but we finally found our voice. Sending you buckets of love,

  4. Margaret H. Greenberg
    | Reply

    Marilyn, my heart goes out to you. Earlier this weekI learned of QPR — think CPR for mental illness.

    We all, including professionals, need to get better at recognizing the signs and responding appropriately. Thank you for sharing your story. Margaret

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