Mental Health is Essential

By Ethan Macks

From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021

With all the concern going around about COVID-19 and what is essential and what is not, I feel that there needs to be greater consideration for mental health.

Being incarcerated, I see a lot of stigma concerning the issue of mental health. Being labeled as SMI (Seriously Mentally Ill) on the streets, I’ve had ample experience with mental health and how it should be treated. The National Institute of Mental Health defines SMI as a “mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” SMI commonly refers to a diagnosis of psychotic disorders (schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders.

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