We recently lost Ankit who was the son of a mother and father, and the brother of a sister. He was a bright student and could have been a great asset to our community, society, and country.
My name is Pushpa Toppo, a mother who lost her 20 year old son, Ankit Toppo, on July 29, 2022, who was suffering from severe depression.
Ankit was a very bright student. He attended preschool to 4th grade in Catholic school where he participated in basketball, soccer, and spelling bee. He was very strong in spelling and math during his education. He was also very interested in current events. At the age of 9 yrs old, Ankit wrote a letter to Mayor in response to an article in the local newspaper detailing the closing of local Home Hospital in 2011, expressing his sadness on behalf of all of the children who were born in that hospital. He also wrote a letter to author of "Harry Potter," J.K Rowling, when he heard she was retiring, and offered to continue writing for her after her retirement. He received a thank you letter for offering his help from Ms. Rowling. In 5th grade he stated a school TV channel "Bob Cat" where he made students team to take students interview from each class and telecast in school TV channel. He received Certificate of Recognition for " Bobcat T.V". Making digital movies, drawing, and writing cartoon books was his passion in his spare time. He participated in his local county 4-H fair and presented several projects for many years. In middle school he played saxophone and participated in wrestling, speech team, and track. The Debate team was one of his favorite activities. He also designed the T-shirt for his speech team and participated in his high school musical "Cinderella." He was in the Computer Science program in Ivy Tech with the goal to transfer to Purdue University. His ultimate goal and passion were to make music after achieving computer degree for stable income.
Ankit's struggle with depression started in 2017 during high school. He started receiving treatment and counseling but unfortunately, it progressed further and required hospitalizations whenever his depression flared up. He was in and out of hospital since then as his depression persisted and eventually, he started having thoughts of hurting himself.
I request to pause here, think, and let's ask ourselves a question - where we can improve our resources in our society, mental health care and legal systems, and families to help teenagers and young adults like Ankit. How can we improve and what can we do to save many more just like Ankit?
This foundation was created to spread the awareness, provide support, and bring changes in our current mental health care and legal systems, in our society, and in our families in order have a better understanding of mental health issues. The time is now to assess ourselves on our current mental health care system and find out the flaws and where our system can be improved. This is the time to remove the legal burden and fear from families so they can nurture, empower, heal, and support their loved ones with mental illness.
Let's request and help our legal system to come up with appropriate strategies to help the future generation by navigating them to proper help without putting a legal burden, fear, and pressure on young adults suffering from mental illness who cannot cope with and handle their life. To request legal system to assess the current system, if it is truly helping young adults suffering from mental illness or there are better improved way to adopt.
We did what we knew best but let us make some positive change to make our best even better. Join us as we become a team to provide appropriate treatment, support, and compassion, and to remove fear and pressure in order for this young generation to see hope to survive. While we all show compassion, help and support for a person with physical illness, we don’t show the same compassion, health and support for mental illness. It is very important to extend our support to our family, friends, and members of our society who are suffering from mental health issues.
Proposed changes to implement-
1- Patients who are in danger, evidenced by several recent attempts to hurt themselves and several years of mental health illness history, should not be discharged until they are stabilized and not a threat to themselves anymore.
2- Opening subacute facilities for mental rehabilitation centers, where patients can be transferred to after stabilization in the hospital, in order to continue one-on-one therapy sessions – including personalized counseling with coping skills, group sports activities, building positive and healthy hobbies prior to discharge. In these subacute facilities patients should be allowed to use electronics, media and have the freedom to meet friends and family so that they can heal faster without stigma and so they do not feel like they are locked away from the rest of the world without freedom.
3- Legislatives to approve funding for financial support for the education of mental health professionals so more students can pursue Mental health professionals' degrees. We all know how much of a shortage there is in our mental health professional- psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and social workers, especially after the pandemic.
4- Proper support, assistance and assurance to family members and person who is suffering from mental illness so they can continue taking care of their loved ones with mental illness in their own homes without fear of getting into legal trap to themselves and their loved ones in order to reduce state spending on patients' frequent hospitalization.
5-Mental health support is very important in schools as children, teenagers, and young adults spent most of their time in schools. Implementing and providing mental health support can prevent and take care of mental illness at early stage. It can be achieved in school by having mental health screening for early detection of any emotional and mental health issue, to provide early treatment by mental health care counselors and providing classes on coping skills, deep breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Several studies show that performing deep breathing and relaxation techniques for even a few mins can bring an atmosphere of decreased anxiety, stress, improved concentration, focus, and memory for students as well as for teachers, therefore improving success, grades, and mental health.
6-Overall proper awareness and education on resources provided in the community. Television commercials for antidepressant medication is a small start, but we can extend that to all our existing non-medication intervention resources awareness and holistic approaches. We can provide Mental health resources at school, workplaces, MD offices, psychiatric clinics and other common places in community.
Together we can make a difference and win this Fight!
Let's become the voice of Ankit.
Preparing, Saving and Empowering Future Generation!