As someone who has personally experienced the impact of severe mental illness on a loved one, I am deeply passionate about mental health advocacy and reform. That's why I wrote "Born Into Crisis," a powerful memoir that sheds light on the dire state of the American mental health system and the devastating consequences it has on those who are suffering.
In today's news cycle, mental health has taken center stage as we witness a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide rates nationwide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year, with 50% of all chronic mental illnesses beginning by age 14. These statistics are staggering, and they highlight the urgent need for systemic change.
"Born Into Crisis" is a firsthand account of my journey with my mother and her severe mental illness. It chronicles the challenges we faced as we navigated a broken and underfunded mental health system that failed to offer us the needed support. My mother's illness impacted every aspect of our lives, from our finances to our relationships. It was a constant struggle, and we felt utterly alone.
Unfortunately, our story is not unique. Millions of families nationwide are struggling with mental illness and facing the same systemic obstacles we did. The mental health system is vastly underfunded, with only 6% of U.S. healthcare spending on mental health. This lack of investment has led to a shortage of mental health providers, limited access to treatment, and a lack of resources for struggling families.
I wrote "Born Into Crisis" to raise awareness of the urgent need for systemic change and to call for action. We need to invest in mental health resources and support systems that prioritize early intervention and prevention. We need to ensure that families have access to affordable and effective treatment. We need to work towards destigmatizing mental illness so that people feel comfortable seeking help when they need it.
I hope that readers of "Born Into Crisis" will come away with a greater understanding of the challenges faced by those living with severe mental illness and their families, as well as a renewed sense of urgency to push for meaningful change. We cannot afford to ignore this crisis any longer––we must act now to ensure that everyone has access to the care and support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Kenneth Nixon Jr. is a pastor, community organizer, and mental health advocate. He knows firsthand what it means to navigate personal mental health challenges while also navigating a broken system on behalf of a loved one. Kenneth speaks out about the need for reform in the mental health system, and works to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness. He also is the founder of the non-profit justice organization called Justice Now.
In his debut memoir, “Born Into Crisis” (Burning Soul Press, May 2, 2023), pastor and community organizer Kenneth Nixon Jr. discusses the necessary steps to healing and breaking free from the cycles of family traumas. Drawing from his own experience with dysfunctional family dynamics, Kenneth uses his story to call attention to the need for systemic change in our mental health system.
The American mental health system is in crisis, and those affected by its shortcomings are drowning without the tools and resources they deserve and need to thrive. In “Born Into Crisis,” Kenneth shares his story of growing up with a mother with severe mental illness and a family stuck in an enduring cycle of trauma. He knows firsthand the impact trauma can have on a person's life. Kenneth not only takes you on a powerful journey through his stories, he provides cogent and practical strategies for creating lasting change in our mental health system. “Born Into Crisis” is more than just a story of resiliency. It's also a call to action.