Mental Illness Speech

Ashley Baker, Executive Director for Linden Lodge Speech on Mental Illness given at a Prayer Breakfast in honor of Dr. Ben Carson 3/19/22, Pinehurst, North Carolina

In 1st Kings Chapter 19, The Prophet Elijah afraid for his life and tired of running, lays in a bush and prays “I have had enough, Lord. Let me die.”

Instead, God sent food, drink, and rest.

And then he sent help.

These are simple necessities that all people need to thrive in our world.

Over 10 years ago, Marianne Kernan founded Linden Lodge. Our Foundation focuses on housing and supporting people like Elijah often in their worst moments who have a mental illness. We do this by linking with local organizations and providing housing, meals, medication administration, activities, and support for our residents including transportation to jobs and volunteer work all at ZERO dollars to taxpayers.

Daily we receive phone calls asking for placement. The reality is we need many more Linden Lodges to support the need of so many people suffering. They need only the same things we all do- Air, Food, Water, shelter, and someone to make sure they are ok.

If a person says they have a diagnosis such as cancer we ask immediately, how can I help you? We provide them with every medical care available, we even do Go Fund Me Campaigns for them. But when someone needs help with their mind, we shun them.

Every year 1 out of 5 people suffers from a mental disorder. They go to our emergency rooms for help and are handcuffed to beds until they “Change” their mind or wait weeks to get simple medication assistance or they can’t get help and are kicked out on the streets leading to our growing homeless population.

The narrative must change. We must treat ALL people with illness regardless of what kind- EQUAL. We need to have adequate resources for them to get help. We need to review outside the box models like Linden Lodge and invest in PEOPLE.

Keep in mind- Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolfe, Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and even Hitler all had one thing in common- besides being influential in our world history- they all suffered from a mental illness.

Mental illness affects worker productivity, and costs taxpayers a lot of money. For example, over 2 million people a year who are jailed have a mental illness. Persons with mental illness are more likely to use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol. And sadly we lose friends and family to suicide -one of the leading causes of death- the 2nd leading cause of death for those 10-34 years old.

YOU and I hold the power in our hearts to accept, support and embrace people suffering from a mental illness.

I implore YOU to include those suffering mentally in your prayers and learn more about mental illness and what you can do to help. These are our neighbors, our family, our co-workers, our friends, they are driving on our streets, sometimes they are living in our homes, AND sometimes it’s us.

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