I've always wondered why mental health is treated with such a stigma in our society. Millions of people go through life with mental illnesses and no one talks about it. When the conversation does come up, people will often think they are made up and say that the people suffering from them have control over their illness.
I can say that this is not true at all. After taking multiple psychology courses in school and talking to many individuals with mental illnesses, I've come to the conclusion that society needs to change the way it discusses mental illness. If they were called "brain diseases" for example, I feel like people would take it way more seriously, because it sounds more scientific and physical because it is something affecting the brain. For some reason, people think mental illnesses are "all in your head" and while they are not wrong, they also aren't right. I'm definitely not an expert on this topic, but I have seen how the world treats mental illness and I hope to see a change one day.
People take physical illnesses seriously. They do this because these are illnesses they can see and they know that people needed medicine to combat those physical illnesses. Some mental illnesses like schizophrenia and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are often taken more seriously than things like depression and anxiety because it is known that those illnesses require medicine to treat. Depression and anxiety are typically helped with therapy before moving on to medical treatments, so people believe things like that can be controlled by the individual, and that it can be easily stopped.
I think it is really unfair for someone who has never had a mental illness to be able to make conclusions about how someone else feels and what their thoughts are doing to them. From experience, I can say that anxiety and OCD are not things that are easily controlled. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A disorder that is obsessive cannot be stopped with the snap of a finger. Anxiety can be highly debilitating for people and can take many different forms. I've seen what depression can do to people and I know the effects of it are horrible.
While these illnesses are not physical and cannot usually be seen, they are still there; they are still hurting the person suffering. Showing your support for those who suffer from these things is needed for them to feel like they're going to be okay. Never ever tell them to "just get over it" or "stop worrying" because you are not helping! Instead, take a nicer approach and ask them if they want to talk to you about it, or let them know that things will be okay, but do not force them to do things they do not want to do. Do not make them feel like they are weak for not being able to control how they are feeling.
It's sad that mental illnesses are not taken as seriously as they should be. These illnesses can take lives and they do every day. I hope more and more celebrities begin speaking out about them so that fans can feel like they are not alone. I hope to see the day where insurance companies will cover therapy as easily as they cover stitches. I hope schools implement mental health classes into their curriculum so kids can learn about them and understand what they are feeling. I hope colleges fund counseling centers more so that students won't have to wait months to talk to someone. A lot can happen in that time. Things need to change.
I took part in a podcast project for my psychology of pseudoscience class this semester and I was part of the mental health group. I learned a lot more about the topic and the whole experience made me realize how bad our understanding of mental illnesses are and how many stigmas still exist. I hope that one day that will change and that people suffering from these things won't feel alone and hopeless any longer.
Here's a link to the podcasts! They are not up just yet but will be soon. If you are interested in learning more about psychology topics like mental health, criminals, morality, free will and conspiracy theories, head over to the link.