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Springsteen’s Example

“Mental Health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” —Noam Shpancer, PhD.

by Jo Valenti, BSN, RN, Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board

With mental illness being so widespread, most of us either affected ourselves or have a close family member with mental illness. Struggling with a mental illness is difficult enough but is made far more difficult by society’s view, which often imposes stigma on those with mental illness. It used to be much worse. Families would often try to hide their mentally ill loved one to avoid the effects of stigma on their family. Thankfully those days have passed.

Fortunately, society has recognized that that sort of behavior is not healthy or kind—or even just. Celebrities have been doing a lot to bring mental illness into the public eye. Many of them have openly revealed their own struggles.

For instance, in his 2017 book, Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen writes about his personal struggles with depression and mental health in his family. “As a child, it was simply mysterious and embarrassing,” he writes.

In a later interview aired on the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast (Jan. 2021) he explained his energetic concert performances as a form of catharsis: “I had had enough of myself by that time to want to lose myself. So, I went onstage every night to do exactly that.” He’s also revealed that he monitors his mood and takes prescription medicines.

The fact that a person as successful as Bruce Springsteen struggles with mental illness should give all of us reason to reconsider our own views. Success in life does not depend on physical health (Stevie Wonder is blind and Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s) or mental health. It is what we choose to do with the hand we are dealt. And it is up to all of us to stop judging and realize illness, whether physical or mental, is not a character defect. Make it your personal goal to overcome whatever misconceptions and prejudices you may have regarding those with mental illness.

The Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board bylaws state that the Board’s purpose is to provide leadership and guidance to Cumberland County in the development, maintenance and improvement of mental health and addictions services by planning, implementing, and monitoring such services. In performing these duties, the Board actively promotes community education through support of various community activities. The Board also provides a regularly updated and comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Resource Guide on the Cumberland County website:

This guide has a list of services and providers in Cumberland County and is helpful in locating a mental health expert.

The Board is looking for dedicated members. If you or someone you know is interested, send a letter of interest and resume by e-mail to Melissa Niles, or by mail, Cumberland County Human Services, 70 W. Broad St., Bridgeton, NJ 08302.

Minding Your Mind