I wanted my first post to be something inspiring, essentially why I was motivated to create this blog at all.
It’s interesting because those of us who suffer from mental illness, myself included, tend to believe that we’re alone – but when you look at all the stats, in no way is that true: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from mental illness in a given year, while approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 experience a severe mental disorder at some time in their life. Clearly, mental illness is not a rare occurrence.
In fact, it is after coming to college, that I’ve seen firsthand just how prevalent mental illness really is, especially among young adults. To be honest, in a lot of instances, I’ve been taken aback when people share their mental health experiences with me because it’s often times the individuals I would least expect to be suffering mentally that have struggled the most.
It makes me sad, though, because we choose not to talk about our internal struggles, which is why mental health issues are so downplayed. We need others to help us emotionally, empathize with us, or simply listen to how we’re feeling. A lot of times, though, we don’t receive the support we need. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25% of adults with mental health symptoms believe that people are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness. This percentage is disgustingly low.
I’m sure you hear it all the time – mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health. In fact, the two are inextricably linked. Just as we seek treatment for a broken leg, we must seek treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. It’s not easy to do, though, when the issue of mental health is stigmatized, ignored, misunderstood, and often times even ridiculed.
What’s even more unfortunate is that mental illness is not particularly visible on the exterior, as a broken leg is, thus making it difficult to detect. Others can be blatantly ignorant about mental health. I often hear people nonchalantly saying things, such as “You’re so bipolar”, or “I’m going to kill myself.” Using such phrases out of context delegitimizes mental illness, and makes it hard for others to detect true warning signs. I know it sure makes me INCREDIBLY angry when people somehow turn a real medical problem into a joke, even if the joke is not intended to cause any harm.
So far in my life, I haven’t done a whole lot to help alleviate the suffering faced by those dealing with mental illness; I want to do much more, that’s one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place. However, I try to be there for my loved ones when they are not doing so well emotionally. I think it’s extremely crucial to educate yourself and others about mental health, so that you can identify warning signs and provide others with the assistance they need because, often times, they are too afraid to ask for it themselves. Additionally, listen to what others say around you; we often get so caught up in our own lives that we unintentionally ignore someone’s plea for help. The awareness and treatment of mental illnesses doesn’t need to be in the form of some large-scale movement; it can be the small action of lending an ear to a friend that makes all the difference.
We’re all human-beings and whether we are suffering from physical health problems or mental illnesses, we need to make it a priority to take care of ourselves and those around us.
Plato once said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Especially in the case of mental illness, which is not externally apparent, please be kind and respectful to those around you – you never know what sort of inner battle they are fighting.
What do you guys think? Are people sympathetic to those suffering from mental illness? And if not, do you think that’s one of the reasons people are afraid to seek help from others?