I would like to wish everyone a Happy Labor Day and hope that you are able to spend a few minutes relaxing with friends and family before hitting the grind again on Tuesday. We are in the midst of the remains of tropical storm Lee that is just what the doctor ordered for a very dry Middle Tennessee.
Hockey fans everywhere continue to mourn the deaths of Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard. The facts are not really know of the circumstances surrounding each tragedy. The reality is that as a group, and individually, they each suffered in their own way.
Life is tough for everyone. I have heard life negatively described as a long series of troubling events that are occasionally interrupted by moments of happiness. That is a bleak outlook, but for many folks, it's not far from reality.
The summer of tragedy in the NHL has brought to the surface a discussion of mental illness and depression that most folks would rather sweep under the rug and pretend that it doesn't exist. That is a problem.
Every one in the world suffers from mental illness to a degree at different times, just as everyone occasionally gets a cold. Unfortunately, while you can go to CVS and get seen in a Minute Clinic to get drugs to make it go away more quickly, it's not that easy when your mental illness goes from tolerable to more serious.
Americans in general are taught to be self sufficient and when things suck are usually told to "pull up their bootstraps" or to "gut it out." To admit that you are having issues is a sign of weakness to many.
A secondary, and overriding issue is the fact that most insurance plans have strict limits on care for mental illness and regardless of HIPPA laws, when word slips out that someone has "mental problems" they become a pariah to employers and others in positions of authority.
One of the most refreshing interviews that I ever had with a potential hire was with a person that laid out their issues during the interview. They were completely transparent with the illness they had on the front end as opposed to having to deal with it if it reoccurred on the back end. Unfortunately, they were not qualified for the position because I really wanted to hire the person because I knew that they were a good person.
As a society, we need to condition ourselves to look at mental illness in a different light. Your closest friend may suffer quietly and never say a word because the illness hey have may be telling then that you will not like them if they ask for help.
We all need to be free to communicate our hurts and fears to those around them that care As family and friends, we need to be open to take the time to listen and offer comfort and encouragement to seek professional help when needed. Legislative reform is needed in insurance law to put mental illness on the same level as the common cold.
If the deaths this summer do nothing else but move us as a people in that direction, then the loss of these three young men will not be in vain.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass