End The Stigma of Mental Illness
End The Stigma of Mental Illness
STIGMA? What Stigma?
Humans can be such funny creatures! If we feel physically ill, we tell people straight away. In fact, we sometimes talk about it so many people become annoyed by our being sick. Not only do we tell people straight away, we seek help! Be it going to the chemist to buy over-the-counter remedies, asking “Doctor Google” or going to your family GP. We do not hesitate to speak about it. We do not hesitate to seek help.
Flip the coin. When we have a bad day, week, month, year emotionally or mentally. We do everything in our power to mask the symptoms, to hide that something is up or wrong with us, we do not speak about it, we do not seek help. But in the end, we need to end and stop the stigma of mental illness!
The answer is simple. We care what people think of us, how they will perceive us and what they will say about us. Society has built up the most horrific stigma around mental health, and more specifically- seeking therapy. It is this that stops millions of people from a) admitting they have a problem b) admitting they need help c) speaking about it and d) seeking the help they need. Instead, they continue to smile all day long, only to go home at night and feel the pain.
If someone has something physical- from a common cold to a life-threatening disease- they are cared for. People rally around asking what they can do to help; they cook meals; they send messages and they visit. The minute someone has something mental- from a bad day, to depression, to addiction- they are told they are crazy and to “snap out of it”. Worse, often cut off by friends and family. Why is the same care and sympathy not given? We need to ask, why are we doing this to the people we ‘love’? Why are we doing this to ourselves?
What is it?
The definition of ‘stigma’ is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. What exactly is so disgraceful about someone seeking help and trying to be the happiest and best version of themselves? Jeepers! I think that is pretty admirable!
It is so easy- see the value in mental health equally to that of physical health. We are not healthy if we are simply free of disease. We will never live a full and happy life if we do not take care of both our mental and physical health. There is a direct relationship between the two- poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions and people with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing poor mental health. The sooner we realise this and the sooner we all begin to look after our own physical and mental wellness- the sooner the stigma will perish.
Ever heard of psychosomatic illness? I’m sure you have experienced a headache due to stress or a sore tummy due to nerves… This is because our mental and physical health are related. What happens to one, affects the other. So there is absolutely no reason why people should be praised for looking after their physical health (by going to the gym, eating healthy, losing weight etc.) and completely shamed for looking after the other (by going to counselling etc.). I promise you, going to the gym or losing those extra pounds will not erase the hurt and pain in your heart. You are only dealing with half the problem.
2 Major reasons
Stigmas usually arise due to a lack of education or awareness surrounding the topic. We need to know the importance of mental health in order to understand the importance of looking after it. Once we know it, we need to share it! We need to support one another, we need to love, we need to be kind. Life is so short! Why are we going to spend it judging others rather than supporting others?
Have you noticed how every second series has mental health awareness somehow attached to it, hell we even seeing how members of the Royal family have become mental health advocates and ambassadors, they are encouraging people to seek help, to speak up and to get the care they need. Celebrities and influencers are standing up in their numbers, they are raising the banner and declaring a war on the negative stigma that surrounds getting help for any and all mental health illnesses plaguing the world today!
Again, it is so easy- let us see the value in mental health equally to that of physical health. Let’s start fighting against the stigma, start speaking openly about how brave people are when seeking help. Have those conversations, open the discussion and start removing the shame. We are all responsible for ending the stigma, for encouraging those around us and ourselves in getting help. End and stop the stigma of mental illness today by starting with you!