“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” – Bill Clinton
Mental health is a subject that is bound to impact every person at some point. Throughout your life, you may find yourself dealing with grief, a family member struggling with grief or a friend dealing with trauma. In reality mental health it just as relevant and common as physical health. Unfortunately, stigma and the lack of education surrounding mental health has made it taboo. So let’s get real on mental health.
Let’s start with the problem of representation.
Entertainment: TV Shows and movies often portray mental health as stupid, unnecessary or scary. Characters with mental health issues are either seen as unable to function or freaks. Therapists are seen as unhelpful or even an enemy. Even when the show or movie tries to get it right it is still full of stereotypes and misinformation regarding therapy and mental health in general.
Fact: Mental health professionals are well educated holding Maters or Doctorates in the area of counseling and psychology. Add this to hands-on experience, it can sometimes take 9 to 15 years or more of education and training just to be licensed. They are also subject to many legal and ethical guidelines just like medical doctors.
Social Media: Many people feel they are doing their part if they share a meme or post about mental health. They are drawn to the pretty picture or the way the words sound important. Unfortunately, many of these shares contain false information or damaging representation of mental health.
Fact: Introverts are not socially challenged, OCD is not someone who is just really organized, Trauma is related to events with the real or perceived threat of death (not based on your feelings getting hurt or something that scared you!), sociopaths are not murderers…people with mental health disorders are not “crazy” and mental health professionals hate to be called shrinks. The takeaway here is to educate yourself before sharing content.
What does this misrepresentation lead to?
- Stigma: It is hard to admit you are having a problem if you think this problem makes you weak, crazy, or lesser in some way.
- Fear: No one wants to go to a person for help they feel is not really going to help them or is going to harm them in some way.
- False information: People down-play or up-play issues because of what they think they know about a particular issue.
Fact: It is likely that everyone will experience issues with their mental health at some point, if not multiple points in their life.
Fact: Like physical health most mental health issues are “curable” or manageable with proper treatment.
Fact: Most client and issues are treatable with short term care. As in months, not years.
Making the change
Breaking the Stigma
When mental health is seen in more of a positive way people are more likely to seek help.
Fact: Suicide ranks as the 10th cause of death in the United States. Yet only half of those suffering from severe depression choose to get help. Of these, men makeup 80% of the suicides yet are far less likely to seek counseling services due to stigma.
A society that understands mental health will be more likely to recognize red flags within friend and family groups.
Fact: On a personal level, I lived in an abusive life from birth until age despite having all of the signs.
When we learn to embrace our own mental health we are able to find ways that help up live a better quality of life.
Fact: Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. When we struggle in one area we will then struggle in other, making it important to find a balance.
What you can do:
Education, Representation, and awareness
- Education: Take the time to educate yourself through scientifically backed information presented by real professionals.
- Representation: Support content that properly represents mental health and take the time to address and correct harmful information.
- Awareness: Share content and information with others.
If you want to learn more about mental health there are many resources available written by mental health professionals and researchers in your local library, bookstore and online. If you are interested in learning more about mental health topics I have covered please feel free to explore any of my Written Content and or Psi Stream Videos.
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