A message from Lynne & Victor Brick Founders of the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation
We started the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation 3 years ago in an effort to change the way people looked at mental illness...
Historically, people considered mental health issues as an ‘illness’ from which some people suffered, and most people did not. And the way to treat the ‘illness’ was to medicate those that were afflicted with it. For the most part, that was considered the only way.
My (Victor’s) oldest brother, John, suffered from schizophrenia most of his life and succumbed from complications of the disease at the age of 62. His deteriorating physical health issues were exacerbated by his constant use of medication to control the symptoms of the disease. Never, in all the years he received treatment for his illness, often in some of the finest mental health institutions in the country, was he put on a well-rounded program that included lifestyle choices, such as exercise and diet besides pharmaceuticals, to help improve his condition.
We look at mental health as a continuum, with happiness at the one end of the spectrum, mild mental health issues, like mild depression and anxiety, in the middle, and extreme forms of mental illness, like deep depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, and even suicide at the other. All of us move up and down this continuum, depending on the events that affect our lives. At any time, any of us could be diagnosed as clinically mentally ill, depending on how we are affected by circumstances in our lives. That is why we call it ‘mental health’ instead of ‘mental illness’. It really is about keeping our mind healthy.
Due largely to the stress of modern society, mental illness is at epidemic proportions. It is estimated that in any given year, 27% of the American population can be clinically diagnosed as ‘mentally ill’. That means over 60 million Americans suffer from some sort of diagnosable mental illness a year. We think we need to do something to help those suffering from mental illness other than just medicate them. We think there has to be a better way. And we think that better way is a combination of lifestyle choices AND traditional health care practices, such as pharmaceutical intervention. Specifically, we think exercise has to be part of the treatment.