Every year, research tells the story of our public health status as a country. We have referenced many diseases that shorten our lives, such as heart disease, cancer, and strokes. However, it seems that we are witnessing a trend in what is labeled diseases of despair.
These diseases of despair are overwhelming negative emotions that create public health issues. When we refer to diseases of despair, we refer to drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide. Herein lies the connection to trauma and its impact reflective of a major public health problem.
One consequence of this research shows for the third year in a row, the life expectancy of white middle-class Americans has decreased. I cannot read this article without suggesting we are a far more traumatized nation than we would like to admit, and our coping mechanisms are leading to this trend of diseases of despair.
I think it is also significant that funding for these diseases of despair is far less than other public health issues. Yet, these diseases of despair are seen as the “highlighted” causes that decrease our life expectancy.
I believe we should be aware and vigilant to help our friends and families find help for these types of situations that so strongly affect their lives. We know in the trauma world there are answers for these issues—if we can get the right help to those who are trauma-impacted and struggling.
We need to do better, be better and fund better the issues so important to our overall life and health conditions. We all need to be a part of the solution for those around us who are struggling with devastation of their own.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO