Senator John Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed Medical Center in mid-February, seeking treatment for clinical depression that has been described as severe in the weeks since. In doing so and by sharing this information with the public, Senator Fetterman is doing something incredibly powerful - normalizing seeking help.
While the stigma surrounding mental health has lessened in recent years, it has not disappeared. There is still much room for improvement in how we support mental health and mental health treatment. While the idea of going to therapy may be more normalized today, the reasons we highlight for counseling are often minimized. Think about our fixation with the “worried well”. Mental health concerns and disorders run the gamut. Types of treatment range from outpatient to inpatient, short-term to long-term and semi-regular to intensive. If we truly want to address mental health and support the individuals struggling with it, we must erase the stigma at every level. Only then can the real work begin.
We are thinking of Senator Fetterman as he continues treatment and wish him well. And simultaneously, we are hoping that those in need of help at this moment will see the senator’s willingness to seek support as their own green light to do the same.