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Mental health issues and substance abuse in America

By Kelsey Parker ’20


As an incoming college student who has a personal connection to the issue, being at the Like-Minded rally during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was amazing.

It was inspiring to witness so many people wanting to learn more about mental health issues. It hit home for me as I have felt the impact of having family and friends with mental health problems; bipolar disorder, depression, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), etc. Two family members and a good friend of mine committed suicide because they were suffering from mental health problems.

The Like-Minded rally was all about informing the attendees about how mental health problems are increasingly affecting people in the U.S. and the world today. The organization has trained 16,000 people in mental health first aid. Rally organizers and speakers said that we need to train people on how to use mental health first aid just like we do for CPR training.

This rally has inspired me to take the mental health first aid training and to encourage my peers to take this training as well.

The mental health of Veterans was also a big topic of the rally. Like-Minded statistics show that 23 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day. I’m not surprised by this number, but I’m also very upset about it. I’m almost even more upset that this does not come as a shock to me. Veterans do not get the help that they deserve and need, which is incredibly disturbing.

Patrick Kennedy, former United States Representative of Rhode Island and son of Senator Ted Kennedy has been a long time advocate for mental health. He spoke at the rally and had a lot to say. Mental health issues and substance abuse can effect anyone and everyone. Although some people may joke about these disease, it’s not funny at all, rather it is a very sad and serious subject that deserves more attention from society.

It was refreshing to see that this issue transcends politics. The organization is working across the country to speak to people and to help them understand the seriousness of this issue. They work with politicians to help educate more Americans about the challenges those dealing with mental health and substance abuse face and how it impacts their families and friends.


Patrick Kennedy signing autographs for supporters | Photo: Kelsey Parker ’20


Kelsey Parker is an incoming freshman and will be a health science major at Franklin Pierce University. She is from Dummerston, VT an this is her first convention.

For more updates and information follow the members of PoliticsFitzU’s adventures at the Democratic National Convention with @PoliticsFitzU on Twitter.


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