People can tend to have many different views towards mental health, which can have an effect on how people take care of their mental health as well as helping others. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans at the ages 18 and older suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Stigma surrounding mental health can often put people into a stereotype without acknowledging their struggles and understanding their illness a bit more. More than 70% of people with mental illness receive no treatment from health care staff. I believe this is largely in part due to the stigma attached to having a mental illness. Why is there such a negative view surrounding mental health and what are the effects it has on the ones receiving the judgment? Providing safe and non-judgmental support to those who are suffering can help them build trust in getting help. Negative judgment towards mental illness can make those who are struggling feel they will be judged if they speak up about their battle.
Illnesses like depression and anxiety affect your emotions which changes how you react to certain situations. The NIH Curriculum Supplement Series shared that, “as scientists continue to investigate the brains of people who have mental illnesses, they are learning that mental illness is associated with changes in the brain’s structure, chemistry, and function and that mental illness does indeed have a biological basis.” An example of this can be seen in people who are afraid of airplanes. Their fear could cause physical symptoms which can lead to manifestation, such as anxiety attacks. There are several ways mental illnesses develop for individuals. Some of these include genetics, chemistry and structure of the brain, as well as traumatic experiences.
Today’s perception of mental illnesses has improved vastly compared to that of the past. In the past, when people were experiencing mental health issues, they were sent to hospitals because of a lack of proper treatments and understanding of these issues. Certainly, that is not the case in the 20th century.
Today, there are amazing, well-educated specialists in the mental health field anyone can seek for treatment. Counseling is one of the best treatments for mental health as there are specialized fields that the counselors are trained in. Some of these fields are trauma, addiction, family/marriage counseling, and guidance counseling. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma still attached to mental health as some people have a lack of education surrounding mental health and may stereotype those who are suffering. The attitudes that are shown towards mental illnesses can shape how people will experience their own situations with emotional distress and how they will receive care. When people are suffering from a mental illness, they are already unsure about themselves and their position in life, it’s hard to risk precious social and professional capital to seek help.
It is hard to see all the effects mental illness can have on someone. Illnesses like depression and anxiety can cause distorted thinking that increases negative emotions. As we are on the outside, we cannot truly understand the pain or thoughts that someone is dealing with as they are in distress. When someone is overwhelmed with challenges, they may feel that they will be judged for their struggles. They may believe that it is safer to be quiet and ignore their pain rather than telling someone about it. You can never tell the extent of how much someone is suffering just by looking at them. Somebody may have an issue that seems so little to you however, their whole life is being affected by their state of mind. The worst thing people can say to ones who are struggling is “Just get over it, you are fine.”
Rather than saying someone who has a mental illness is looking for attention, believe that they are someone who is struggling mentally and emotionally. Mental illnesses can be paralyzing in a sense because of the overwhelming rush of emotion. Show them some respect and accept them as an individual. Try to understand how to help them work through their situation. Learn what is challenging them and if there is anything you can do to support them. But remember, do not overstep your support, please get a professional for counseling! They are trained in the mental health field and know specific guidelines.
Learning more about mental illnesses can help you as well as others! Don’t be afraid to do research or even ask a professional about mental health. There are so many individuals that are struggling in this world and it could possibly be you or someone you know! Sometimes when people are struggling with their mental health, they believe they are not worthy of getting help. It’s important to break the negative stigma, that way people can feel the support in their community. Support and acceptance can help in a time of need when someone is suffering. Be the light for someone who can’t see their own at the moment.