Opinion: Rosalynn Carter’s legacy changed my life | CNN

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Editor’s Note: Carmen Quecido is a mental-health advocate and Cuban-American writer based in northern New Jersey. She is working on a memoir about grief and loss titled “Never Talk About Castro and Other Laws My Cuban Parents Taught Me.” In the yearThe opinions expressed in this comment are her own. Read More comments by CNN.


This week many will gather to remember and honor Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, known as a strong advocate, a lifelong and inspiring partner for her husband and a famous humanitarian. I honor her in my own way by honoring her lifelong commitment to transformative mental health advocacy. Her tireless efforts have combated stigma, promoted understanding and empowered countless people like me who face mental health issues every day.

Carter’s mental health advocacy began in 2011 Georgia in the 1960s And committed to addressing stigma and resource gaps in mental health support. As First Lady, in 1977, Carter made her signature, especially the President’s Commission on Mental Health. Her efforts have resulted in research funding, expanded medical access, and new approaches to mental health care.

Her efforts brought Much needed attention to the matterEmphasizing that mental health is a treatable medical condition, indistinguishable from physical illness. For many of us struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions, the former First Lady’s advice was a beacon of hope, a reminder that we are not alone and that help is available.

While Carter’s activism has played an important role in raising awareness and reducing stigma, the prevalence of mental health disorders remains. Undeniable.

The latest Research Half of the world’s population will suffer from at least one mental health disorder by the age of 75, according to researchers led by Harvard Medical School and the University of Queensland. This conclusion comes from a comprehensive face-to-face survey of more than 150,000 adults on 29 different people. Countries representing all regions in the world.

Mental health disorders have a staggering economic toll, according to estimates by the World Health Organization 12 billion lost work days and $1 trillion in lost productivity per yearIt serves as a powerful reminder of the deep personal and societal implications of these situations. My personal journey as a 40-year-old Cuban-American who has battled depression since age 13 and faced the devastating impact of mental illness shows the human cost of these invisible struggles.

Following my mother’s death in 2019, I tried to kill myself. and was hospitalized for a short time. Since that day, almost five years ago, I have worked hard to manage my depression. I have tried therapy, anti-depressants and meditation to relieve my symptoms. Although these methods were useful, my illness still had a significant impact on my life. There are times when I feel like I have everything under control. I could have a marathon day, full of time-sensitive work deadlines, and end my day with a great workout. And there are times when I count it a victory just to get out of bed, shower, and eat breakfast.

However, one of the most challenging aspects of living with depression is dealing with the constant judgment and misunderstanding surrounding the condition. My pain has been weaponized by people I love and unfortunately people who don’t know any better. They used words like “crazy” to evoke A Tired, old trope About people with mental health conditions. It’s exhausting to constantly feel like I’m being targeted for something out of my control.

Rosalyn Carter addresses patients at the Cerebral Palsy Institute in Brussels, Belgium on Friday, January 6, 1978.  She attended a seminar on mental health, when President Jimmy Carter visited the headquarters of the European Community.

Others belittled my struggle and told me to “just give it up” or accused me of being weak. It begs the question: Would you ask someone with diabetes, asthma or any other disease to “beat it”? At best, the statement is wrong and misunderstood. It is brutal at worst. Despite how inappropriate and hurtful these comments are, other people with mental health conditions may not seek the help they need for fear of further stigmatization.

The depth of despair I experienced during my battle with depression made me acutely aware of the importance of comprehensive mental health care. This insight echoes Carter’s lifelong drive to improve mental health outcomes.

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While we have significantly reduced the stigma associated with mental health disorders, much more needs to be done.

I am grateful to Rosalyn Carter for her tireless efforts. We must all carry on her legacy by raising awareness, expanding access to quality treatment, and promoting understanding and compassion. Once as Carter he said.“If we treat mental illnesses properly as physical illnesses, those affected can seek help and be treated in a transparent and effective way.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, please call 988 or visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to connect with a trained counselor. 988 Lifeline website.

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