I have spent much of my adult life as an advocate for people in need of treatment and care from mental illness and substance use disorders. I am also twenty-five years in recovery from drug addiction. I know a great deal about the care of these issues through self-help, cognitive behavioral therapy, and spiritual practice.
I am not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 40 million adults in the U.S. are currently in treatment for a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental illness. That’s a lot of suffering and a lot of people who are looking for answers!
One hundred years ago, infectious diseases were the primary cause of death in the U.S. Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived with the threats of influenza, small pox, tuberculosis, and malaria. Today, these diseases are mostly relegated to the Third World and can more or less be prevented with a shot in the arm.
Today, communicable disease has been eclipsed by degenerative disease or diseases of adaptation primarily associated with lifestyle. Increased life span coupled with the ever-increasing pace of our world and the breakdown of institutions and behaviors that brought some certainty and support in life have given rise to an increased prevalence of mood and emotional disorders.
In the U.S., mental illness is more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, and yet, funding for illness like depression, bipolar, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, OCD, and substance abuse receive a fraction of the support dedicated to physical illnesses. For every one hundred dollars that goes to the National Institute of Health (NIH), less than ten goes to NIMH with even less going to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Mental health has yet to take its place on the red carpet circuit where the financial lifeblood for disease research and treatment seems to exist in America today. I speak out on mental health and substance abuse because I believe access to health care is a fundamental human right whether a person is seeking care for a physical or mental problem.
Suffering from an anxiety or mood disorder may range from the situational and episodic to more profound disruptions requiring therapy or even hospitalization. Some will confide in a friend or loved one. Many will isolate and suffer alone. The stigma confronted by those with the courage to face their issues is profound. The societal bias that individuals with a treatable mental illness are weak or defective is powerful, pervasive, and wrong.
Many people won’t seek professional help because of these attitudes or because they don’t trust therapists and doubt the efficacy of psychotherapy. Others avoid therapy because of the expense or because they don’t know how to find a good therapist. And there are many places in this country and throughout the world where trained therapists are in short supply.
You might think that those with money, power, and strong family ties might not have the same challenges as the rest of us when it comes to mental illness, but you would be wrong. It turns out mental health and substance abuse disorders are equal opportunity diseases. Members of family enterprises often suffer silently with these treatable challenges because they mistakenly believe that they cannot risk seeking treatment and that, even if they did, it wouldn’t work. There are benefits and challenges inherent in all family systems. I know from personal experience, that when strong personalities are combined with a successful enterprise and with high public visibility, the emotional and mental challenges increase for the family members involved.
Despite strong desire and the bond of family ties, most family enterprises do not survive intact long term. There are many reasons for this but chief among them are the mood and emotional issues that surface within and between members of the family.
This is why my friend Jim Hutcheson with Michael Cofield and Mary Ann Zimmerman created The Family Business Road Map to Peace of Mind. Following the techniques outlined in this book won’t necessarily solve all your problems and ensure that emotional and mental disorders will never affect you or your business, but it can help many.
We know self-guided counseling has been shown to be as effective for some mood and anxiety disorders as conventional treatment provided by a therapist. This book was designed for family business members to use at their own pace, employing well researched and thoroughly tested techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy to give the best chance of achieving results.
We are living in a time where mood and anxiety disorders are common. Many Americans from all walks of life will have to make the choice to face these challenges or go on suffering in silence needlessly. What I and the authors of this book want them to know is that treatment works, and if you are one of the two-thirds of the folks wrestling with this issue who don’t want to seek outside help The Family Business Road Map To Peace Of Mind will give you a protocol to work on your issues and increase the likelihood of achieving long-term success. Good luck!
Christoper Kennedy Lawford
Author, Actor, an Ambassador to the United Nations