When you have a fever or a cough you take some medicine and hope it goes away. If it doesn’t go away after a few days, you to go to your doctor. There you are diagnosed with a virus, cold, strep or something else. You are given some medicine and a treatment plan and told to feel better. When you’re sick everyone says, “I’m sorry, can I do anything to help?” and maybe they bring you soup or some little treat to make you feel better. But what about when the illness you’re facing isn’t physical, it’s mental? Things drastically change, and many wouldn’t even know if one had this problem because it’s not something we talk about.
So my question to you is why is a physical diagnosis like strep throat or pneumonia looked at so differently than a diagnosis of depression or anxiety? For so long, we’ve viewed problems with our brains as taboo, they can’t be discussed. In reality though, mental illness affects up to 43.8 million Americans a year. To make that number more realistic, one in five Americans is living with a mental illness. Look around where you are—one person in that room or area of five will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. That’s a lot of people in the grand scheme of things. That’s too big of a number to avoid and keep quiet about.
The real question is why is a diagnosis of a mental illness so different from a diagnosis of a physical illness? There should be no difference. Both illnesses are a result of an imbalance in our bodies. For example, when someone has a stomach virus their immune system is too weak to fight it off, there’s an imbalance in the body, there’s not enough antibodies. Similarly when one has depression the levels of serotonin in the brain are out of balance, there’s not enough serotonin. Both illnesses have to do with an imbalance. The reason people see a difference is because for so long people were afraid to speak up about mental illness, but no more.
Right now is the time for change. Mental health is no different from physical health, both are essential to being happy and healthy. What if just like an annual physical at your doctor we also had annual talk therapy sessions? Imagine how much happier we would all be! Having a mental illness is not contagious. You can’t contract it. Today is the day we should help to stop the mental health stigmas. No one is crazy because they have strep, just like no is crazy because of a mental health diagnosis.
OCD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, bipolar disorder and other mental health illnesses affect too many people to not say anything. Today is the day to stand up and say no more. Today is the day to stop viewing the subject of mental health as taboo. Today is the day to realize that mental health illnesses and the stigmas around them affect someone you know and love. Today is the day to talk about mental health. Today is the day to fight to end mental health stigmas.
Someone Who Is Not Afraid to Speak Up