According to MentalHealth.gov, “If you have, or believe you may have, a mental health problem, it is helpful to talk about these issues with others. Learn more about building a strong support system and developing a recovery plan.” To me, a person who has experienced a mental health illness, I have found more strength in my road to happiness when i have talked to others whether it be a therapist, family or friend, that by simply talking with them about my experiences it has opened more doors, and allowed me to start to recover. Recently I conducted a survey and found that almost 98% of the people feel like they have someone to talk to about Mental Health. This is surprising to me, due to the fact that mental health, especially suicide is seen as such a negative and unpleasant thing in our society. Many people feel that talking about suicide glorifies the actions of the victims, gives the wrong message about why they ended their life, or simply the rumors of how they did it. But at the same time according to my results people feel like talking about mental health is seen as a bad thing in our society. They feel scared that people are going to think differently of them, that its a sign of weakness and people with mental health can’t function properly. Which is incorrect.
According to Psychology Today “studies have suggested that stigmatising attitudes towards people with mental health problems are widespread and commonly held (Crisp, Gelder, Rix, Meltzer et al., 2000; Bryne, 1997; Heginbotham, 1998). In a survey of over 1700 adults in the UK, Crisp et al. (2000) found that (1) the most commonly held belief was that people with mental health problems were dangerous – especially those with schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug dependence, (2) people believed that some mental health problems such as eating disorders and substance abuse were self inflicted, and (3) respondents believed that people with mental health problems were generally hard to talk to. People tended to hold these negative beliefs regardless of their age, regardless of what knowledge they had of mental health problems, and regardless of whether they knew someone who had a mental health problem. More recent studies of attitudes to individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or major depression convey similar findings. In both cases, a significant proportion of members of the public considered that people with mental health problems such as depression or schizophrenia were unpredictable, dangerous and they would be less likely to employ someone with a mental health problem”. People who suffer from a mental illness are stronger because they have had to suffer from an illness that has negative meanings in our society, and have to grasp the ignorance that surrounds it. They also say “its like having your own mind turn against you”, which is true, and hard to pull yourself out of a hole when your mind keeps telling you to do the opposite. Just because someone is dealing with a mental health condition doesn’t mean they are any less reliable or predictable than anybody else. We just need help regulating our chemicals and emotions that our bodies produce.
Yes we are starting to get away from the fact that its not seen as a bad thing to talk about depression, but we have also come into a culture where it is acceptable to be depressed, or if you’re having a bad day to say you want to die, or that something gives you anxiety. They are all valid emotions, but when people say these over and over it desensitizes the value of what its like to live with a mental illness and to actually be depressed or live with anxiety.
We need to change these stigmas and start seeing people for who they are, and not what they live with.