When it comes to demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental illness, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.


In a blog post author Peter Levine asks, “Who first said, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for?” (http://peterlevine.ws/?p=6105). Whether it was Alice Walker, President Obama, June Jordan, or Hopi Elders or Seth Godin inspired by Farid ud-Din Attar who said it first the idea is a unifying call to join in bringing about long sought trans-formative change.

It’s about deciding to do something as ‘us’ rather than wait any longer for others or ‘them’ to do it. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” says we need look no further than those around us to start the movement.

As I visited back to school night this week to share information with students and parents about the on-site mental health supports we have available in their school I was met with so much positive energy. When a grandmother tears up just learning about the opportunity to access mental health support at school and promises to tell everyone and next a member of the student senate tells you that the senate has been asking for this type of thing for years and jumps up and down repeating “my friends, my friends, this is so great” you know that a community beyond just teachers, staff and administrators recognize an opportunity when they see one.

Demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental illness is a not a question of if but a question of when. When will a critical mass of informed people effect change on the conversation and move it from one about illness and stigma to one of health and an active pursuit of whole person wellness complete with the convenience and access to realize it.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” All of us. In fact, we can turn from illness to wellness with the catalyst of us just leaning in to make it so. Students, parents, grandparents and really anyone can simply set the standard alongside school professionals and collaborative partners.  The sum total of all of us can choose to refuse to have anything less than the best access to barrier free support for mental wellness and the expectation that seeking support to help be our best self is nothing more than customary, a common pursuit, the norm.

The well-being of our community itself sits at a crossroads reliant on us as the solution to a list of waiting pursuits, among them demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental illness. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

– Rob Edwards, MSW, LGSW, PACC