Since the beginning of time, humans have struggled with mental health disorders. From depression and anxiety to attention deficit disorder and substance abuse, the spectrum of illnesses found in the world’s population is astounding ‒ and it’s always growing. New disorders are discovered every day as children and adults alike struggle with their own internal pressures and stresses as well as the ones cast upon them by their surroundings. However, in Massachusetts, we are lucky to have some of the best statistics regarding mental health.
According to the 2018 State of Mental Health in America publication, which was produced by the country’s top mental health nonprofit Mental Health America, Massachusetts ranks #1 in overall population mental health and treatment. This high ranking shows that our state has the lowest amount of mental health cases in correlation with our high access to care. In addition, we rank #2 in the nation regarding access to overall mental health care, with a ratio of staff to residents at 200:1 while the national average is 536:1. We have the lowest amount of uninsured children (2.4%) and adults (3.3%) that are not covered by mental health treatment costs. It is safe to say that Massachusetts as a whole goes above and beyond when dealing with their resident’s mental health struggles.
The West Springfield community is looking to take steps toward recognizing and supporting those who suffer from mental illness. In August, Mayor Will Reichelt will be joining a national movement called 22KILL, also known as The 22 Pushup Challenge. As a large portion of mental health sufferers are former military members, this movement was organized years ago by a veteran empowerment group called Honor Courage Commitment in hopes to shine light on the vast amount of suffering veterans and the ones that have fallen to mental illness. There are 20 million U.S. veterans in the country; however, this number is slowly depleting as numerous veterans, an average of 22, take their lives every day.
The 22 Pushup Challenge was initially created in 2013, but it didn’t go viral until the summer of 2016. The challenge is easy: state your name and location, film yourself and others doing 22 push ups and post it to social media using the tags #22KILL and #22PushupChallenge. The ultimate goal for the organization was to reach 22 million pushups, but the feedback they received far surpassed their expectations. As of July 2018, they have tallied over 38 million pushups ‒ and the number is still increasing daily.
Mayor Reichelt is accepting this challenge with open arms. He will be traveling around West Springfield for 22 days during the month of August to show his support for the fallen veterans that have been struck by mental illnesses in their past. “I’m looking forward to taking up this challenge and to raise awareness for the all of the veterans that have taken their lives in the past as well as the ones still struggling today,” Reichelt states. The mayor alone will be doing a minimum of 484 pushups during his travels, and that is not including the people he will recruit along the way to join him.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, know that you are not alone. There are many outlets around the town and state for you to reach out to and find help. There are also hotlines for you to call at anytime, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and the Veteran Crisis Line can be reached at that same phone number, just add extension 1. There are also a combination of 14 veteran centers and clinics throughout the state, and there is one located right in Springfield, Never be afraid to ask for help.