What if I told you that red and green were the same colors? I’m sure you would beg to differ. Traffic lights would be the worst invention ever. Well, more than likely you are not color blind. There are citizens of this earth with disorders that make it nearly impossible to distinguish between red and green. Some beg to differ that because they see separate colors there is a clear distinction between stop and go and everyone should know the difference. Well in this example, mental illness works the same way. In many cases, those not affected can’t comprehend and then judge those affected by mental illness. They judge them because they believe those who are affected, cannot distinguish reality in the same way they do.
Much like our traffic light example, some are unaware that everyone doesn’t recognize, stop and go, or reality and illusion. Imagine telling someone with red-green color blindness to stop confusing the colors. Ridiculous right? That’s like telling someone with cancer to stop being sick. Well, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, of every race, class, political affiliation, or any other class divide, mental illness affects us all. Blame is placed on the survivors of a war called mental illness; and ignorance runs ramped, contributing to the stigma that drives this continuous worldwide problem.
So what is this stigma we want to break? It is negative attitudes and beliefs towards people who have a mental health condition. It can lead to discrimination and those inflicted with a condition failing to seek or believe in treatment.
Individual, family, and societal wellness, as well as the economy, are being critically affected by the enormity of people lost in this struggle. Life for those affected with and by mental health disorders are in constant danger. We are in danger because those with the illness don’t seek treatment. And why do so few of those who suffer fail to seek treatment? Well, many people with mental health disorders believe in the stigma placed on them by society. They are in denial or believe that seeking treatment is a personal weakness and are ashamed to admit they need help. Don’t believe me? Try telling your boss you’re overwhelmed because you’re going through clinical depression. Doesn’t seem like an easy task to do, right? Your boss could think you’re unstable or inadequate. Shame caused by the stigma is just a sample of what is done to people affected by illness. If this issue is not addressed we will keep seeing tragedy after tragedy, from suicide to school shootings. It is also estimated that one in five people in the world is affected by the illness.
So what can we do?
Break the Stigma by:
1) not sweeping mental health disorders under the rug and becoming compassionate about tragedies caused by the stigma;
2) addressing societal apathy towards the treatment of the illness;
3) addressing the lack of education about the complexity of the disorders
4)addressing the lack of adequate treatment resources and approaches.
In other words, we could break the stigma by becoming mental health advocates. Be aware of your words. Educate yourself and others as well as support those in need. Seek help. Be help.
How to help yourself if you feel you are becoming ill:
· Don't blame yourself (or others!)
· Reach out to your doctor
· Eat, drink, and sleep healthy amounts
· Take your medication every single day
· If your medication isn't working talk to your psychiatrist
. Take a walk, pick up a hobby, write, draw, etcetera
How to help a friend with a mental health condition:
· Offer support
· Share your concern
· Be a friend
· Be positive
· Reach out to someone (a therapist is highly recommended)
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