In today’s entry, we want to address the stigma associated with mental illness. Even in today’s age; with access to resources and information via the internet, organizations and services focused on improving mental health, and knowing/working/living with people we love (or even ourselves) that have battled with mental health complications at some point in their lives, there is still a stigma about mental illness. This is mostly due to people who have never dealt with it (or people who are dishonest with themselves) not understanding how someone cannot just “be happy”, “not be anxious/nervous”, “just eat”, “just be regular”, or to “not be crazy”. It is almost like telling someone who has cancer or heart disease to “just stop being sick” without them receiving the appropriate treatment to help them to cope with the situation until they are able to better manage life. Mental illness, just like any other debilitating illness/disease is one that is not deserved or asked for; and a little bit of empathy and understanding can go a long way in helping someone to deal with life. You could be the one that saves the life of someone with mental illness for another day just by being kind and respectful. Just like with anything else; if you want to know more, take steps towards getting more information. The individual is usually the best educator in expressing what their depression is; for example, because it may look drastically different from the next person’s. I work in an environment where some people think that because someone “is smiling and looks happy” that they could not possibly be depressed and/or suicidal. Sometimes we wear a mask to hide what is truly bothering us because we do not want to be berated with questions, accusations, insensitivity, judgment, etc. Does this sound familiar to you? Imagine being someone who has any degree of shame about their own mental illness and has been ostracized or discredited by those around them.
Today’s question for reflection:
- Do you or someone you/know love have complications with their mental health? If the answer is “yes”, what are you or have you done to either help yourself or those close to you? If the answer is “no”, what do you think you can do to help end the mental health stigma within your own family/community?
Check out these websites for more information:
Have a wonderful Monday!