“Never give up on someone with mental illness because when “I” becomes “we” you get wellness”- Shannon L. Adler
Ifyou believe we’re all in this together, then you are in the right place. How great would it be if all people who needed support with mental health disorders got it? We know people seek help with all kinds of health disorders. It’s perfectly acceptable to discuss cancer. We know people talk about loved ones who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s ok to share when you have diabetes or a thyroid problem without being judged, ostracized, or made to feel like you are less of a person. When you have a mental health disorder, it’s not ok to talk about. That is an example of stigma. Stigma is a set of negative and unfair beliefs that some people have about something – like mental health disorders. Stigma creates a feeling of shame that can make people afraid to say that they have a mental health disorder, or that someone they love has a mental health disorder. It is time to stop and recognize a mental illness is not unlike any other illness of the body. A mental illness is no one’s fault; bad parents or weak character are not the cause.
Mental health problems are very common. In a given year 57.7 million Americans will experience a mental health disorder. Compare that to cancer, in 2016 ~ 1.7 million new cases will be diagnosed in the United States. The number of people diagnosed with cancer will be < 3% of the people who have a mental health diagnosis. Many of the people who suffer from mental health issues will not seek treatment. Why? Stigma. Nobody wants to talk about mental health disorders and that makes the problem even worse.
Let’s bust some myths right now!
Mental health disorders are not an indicator of violence.
In fact people suffering with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence than to commit violence against others.
Mental health disorders are not uncommon.
Not so! Approximately one in four people worldwide will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life.
Mental Illnesses are not “all in the head”.
There are very real physical symptoms associated with mental health disorders. It’s not a matter of “snapping out of it” any more than one can snap out of a bad case of shingles.
People can and do recover from mental health issues.
Like any serious illness, treatment involves comprehensive, ongoing scientifically based care for the best possible outcome, recovery.
Mental health problems are not caused by a bad childhood.
Many people have healthy happy childhoods and will still struggle with a mental illness later in life. Environmental factors certainly do play a role but it’s not the whole story. We don’t know what causes mental illness.
There are things you can do to help someone who is suffering from a mental health disorder.
A support system is paramount. Family, friends, co-workers, anyone can be part of the support team for someone who is experiencing a mental health issue. Even if it’s just listening or giving rides to appointments, monitoring medications and helping them stick to a routine.
Let’s Talk Mental Health is an opportunity to start talking to end the stigma and prejudice around mental illness. It’s a place to share personal stories, gather information, and reflect on mental health as well as mental illness. What other myths reinforce the stigma around mental health disorders? We invite you to join the conversation. Let’s Talk Mental Health is a place for support, intelligence, resources and recovery. I’d love to hear your thoughts please post your comments.