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Earlier this week I used Encore! social media to showcase mental illness by sharing a CNN Entertainment story about the tragic death of Joshua Marks: ‘MasterChef’ runner-up Josh Marks loses ‘battle of his life,’ commits suicide, by Alan Duke.

Josh Marks, credit: MasterChef, FOX TV

Marks was probably best known for being a runner-up on the FOX reality television competition “MasterChef.” He committed suicide on October 11, 2013, the same week a doctor informed him that he believed that Marks was suffering from schizophrenia (which affects about one percent of the U.S. adult population, source – National Institute of Mental Health).

I linked to Marks’ story to showcase his mother’s plans to raise awareness of the issues with which her son struggled and to help increase access to mental health services. According to the CNN report, Ms. Paulette Mitchell (Marks’ mother) blames “…the lack of mental treatment facilities and the easy access to guns as factors in his tragic death.”

Also, according to that same article:

Mitchell is determined to set up a foundation in her son’s memory to help people with mental illness to address the same issues as Marks. “I am not done, this is not over,” she said. “I am going to make sure that Josh’s voice and dream live on by fighting for mental healthcare treatment.”

I ended my posts by encouraging my mental health experts colleagues to consider supporting Mitchell’s efforts and expressing plans to feature her achievements in future Encore! posts. This could be a classic example of something beneficial for many people resulting from a personal tragedy.

Before I found this CNN story, in today’s post I was going to highlight poetry related to public health. As I searched online with a mix of health and poetry-related terms, I saw many examples related specifically to mental illnesses. From my brief searches it seems that individuals, families and communities dealing with mental health issues have found poetry and other types of artistic expression to be a vital part of their experience, for personal “treatment” and to help raise awareness and advocate for support.

With the hope of inspiring people struggling with mental health issues, here are just a few examples of related poetry and other creative content:

  • Keep on Walking (A poem advocating against stigma and discrimination in mental health), by Gary Rounds, President, Youth Camps for Mental Health, Fiji
  • Voices of Schizophrenia: Poems
  • Bassey Ikpi, a renown poet and mental health advocate, talks about sharing her experience with bipolar II disorder, The Siwe Project – Promoting mental health awareness and education in the global black community and more, interview on PamelaStich.com
  • Poems About Mental Illness, on Family Friend Poems

And, for anyone seeking help or support, here are some mental health treatment resources (though inclusion here is not an endorsement or treatment recommendation):

credit: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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