Society needs to make mental health a priority

Following the Columbine shootings, I submitted a proposal to a local school administration regarding using an occupational therapist specializing in mental health intervention in the school system. The proposal was never even acknowledged. Around the same time, I submitted a similar grant proposal to the American Occupational Therapy Association, which was denied. At the time, I was told by one of the top mental health occupational therapists in the association that it was an excellent proposal, but that mental health was not a major issue for the occupational therapy profession at the time.

It seems to me that the aforementioned is an example to people that mental health is not a priority, never has been and never will be unless people wake up to the fact that it is just as important an illness to address as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, etc. We need to be attentive to our young people who have problems, be there for them, listen to them and get them the help they need before it’s too late. Case in point is the young man in Newtown who himself was hurting and isolated and who took so many lives.

Janice Gagliardi, EdM, OTR/L

Past President, New York State

Occupational Therapy Association