It feels like yesterday when we learned of the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Surprisingly, it has already been six weeks. As I reflect on that week, I found it frightening, alarming and tragic to watch their deaths be used to boost emotionally charged ratings while being neatly packaged in a PSA about mental health and suicide prevention hotlines. These two successful, accomplished, revered, world renowned adults had access to mental health. They had loving family surrounding them. They had opportunity to seek help.

Prior to their suicides, we endured many others. However, with these most recent tragedies, we saw PSAs for mental health and hotlines in addition to the news. I find it to be another example of the media encouraging the idea that all tragedy can be prevented and that actions are never accountable. In our efforts to be politically correct, unbiased, nonjudgmental and accepted by all worldly standards, we are doing more damage.

The damage comes when being accountable for our actions is not the expected standard.

  • We don’t want to “blame the victims”, so we don’t address the horrible repercussions of alcoholism; we call it “depression”.
  • We don’t want to address legal or illegal drug abuse; we call it “self-medicating”.
  • We don’t want to address fidelity and family values; we call it “freedom”.
  • We become militants for opioid abuse, but then blame prescription drug abuse on mental health.
  • We laugh and elbow each other when drunk celebrities slur their words, get arrested for a DUI or are involved in public disturbances. And when they take their own lives, we then become emotionally engaged, concerned, grieve for their families and then wished someone could have helped them.

My heart breaks for the anguish that is carried in the hearts of these beloved people and must now be shouldered by all their children and loved ones. The poor children who have lost their parents to suicide will now question their own stability and mental health believing that this might be their genetic predestined future.

Solving the mental health crisis in America and aiding those inflicted with mental health issues cannot be achieved, when the physical consequences of mind altering substances are ignored. Even prescribed medicines are known to change every cell and function of our bodies. Maybe it’s not about calling a hotline. Maybe it’s about calling AA or a health professional that will not fill your medicine cabinet, but rather your fridge and pantry with food and prescribe exercise that will heal your body and your mind. Alcohol, drugs, tobacco and stimulants, all have addictive chemicals, which change our minds’ ability to regulate our thoughts, emotions and actions.

I’m not discounting the imbalance many of us suffer from because of our bodies’ betrayal. Hormone imbalance, disease, illnesses are all precursors for depression and mental illness. We must address these and help one another walk this journey of life. We must also be strong enough to stand up to the glamorous portrayal of substance abuse. Our nation is pharmacy dependent for all too many health issues. Many are quick to ask, and sometimes jokingly, “Is there a pill for that?” Don’t we wish. However, the pill should be the solution in a crisis situation until stabilized and followed by a non-medicated regimen that combats the issue. For when we acknowledge the consequences of a pharmacy-dependent nation, we can then look for healthier solutions to improve mental health and prevent such tragedy.

About René Steelman

“Find the Strength in Your Solutions, Not Your Struggles.”

Award-winning interior designer, René Steelman knows quite a bit about tilting the balance towards solutions rather than struggles.

“Designing our lives and careers is so important because chaos is so hard.”

This is true in our living rooms, as well as living in general! Life doesn’t always turn out like we plan. Sometimes, a curve is thrown our way that mixes up the balance of our lives or careers. Sometimes those changes are jarring. They require us to take charge of our own lives in ways we didn’t expect.

As an active philanthropist and founder of Steelman Family Foundation, René strives to provide as many families as possible with wheelchair accessible vans. Partnered with United Access, SFF has contributed more than 30 vans since 2016 to families around the country, holding true to their mission, helping “Families who Roll.”

As professional speaker, author of Heaven Sent and Bent and cerebral palsy advocate, René Steelman leads audiences to sift through the challenges and strip down life’s priorities to discover and experience joyful moments. Through humor, compassion, and a take-charge attitude, René shares skills and solutions to cope, survive, live, and thrive during life’s unexpected and overwhelming circumstances.

When not traveling the country speaking or promoting SFF, René spends time with her husband, six children and many grandchildren. Around the clock, with great support, and her family, she cares for her adult son, TJ, who has cerebral palsy.  To reenergize for her next mission, she sips umbrella drinks by the pool counting her blessings. Contact René for your next event or to inquire about sponsoring a family in need.