Mental illnesses are common worldwide. One in six U.S. adult lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that can vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.
Oftentimes, people with mental illness are misunderstood. They are ignored, belittled, or judged. We’re considered “less than” a human being. A burden to society. As if our lives don’t matter. Or that our legitimate symptoms are a figment of our imagination.
The reason mental illness continues to have a stigma today is due to the lack of knowledge, education, and unhealthy views about it. Ignorance is not bliss. Whether an illness affects your kidneys, heart, lungs, or brain, it’s still an illness.
If the government genuinely cared about mental health, they would remove the stigma. Our nation would make positive strides to improve the care, training, education, emotional support, advocacy, and treatment.
Although, traditional medicine is commonly used, it shouldn’t be the first or only option. Not everyone has positive results from psychiatric drugs. In countless cases, mind-altering pharmaceuticals permanently damage the body and mind.
It can destroy lives. Destroy families. Destroy relationships. Destroy the ability to be an independent, fruitful person in our society. (If you want to know my own hellish ordeal, read my memoir.)
Another serious concern is that too many people fall through the cracks. For one reason or another, they're overlooked. They don’t receive the necessary care, support, intervention, or viable options to increase their quality of life.
Time and time again, history repeats itself. Horrific violence. Heartbreaking tragedies. Innocent lost lives. These shattered lives are not only left to pick up the missing pieces, but to reap the consequences of our inadequate mental health industry.
If we, as a nation, desire positive changes, it starts with us. Name-calling, bashing, and attacking those with mental illness is not only unproductive; it’s cruel, evil, and hurtful.
Please be more sensitive about what you share on social media and in person. One never knows who may be silently wrestling with mental illness. It could be your neighbor, coworker, or the person sitting next to you in church.
If you lash out by saying someone with mental illness is a monster, crazy, or you claim their medical condition is a hoax, it only causes more division, hate, and misunderstandings. And the stigma never ends.
Today, think before you speak. The same goes for writing or commenting on posts and videos. Is it edifying, uplifting, or encouraging? Is it hurtful or kind? Words are powerful. Sometimes, they can cut like a knife.
Let’s learn facts about mental health. Let's gain insight. Education, building awareness, and advocacy are essential.
In addition, let's be the positive change in the world around us. Let's end the stigma. Let’s see the whole person, not the illness. Let's respect those who are silently suffering. Let’s be willing to bring to our discussions courage, compassion, and realistic solutions.