Before we begin any actual conversation, I need you to understand some facts.
1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health problem.
1 in 10 young people experience a period of major depression.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
60 percent of adults with mental illness didn't receive treatment in the previous year.
Acknowledge the reality of these statistics and have an appreciation for them — keep them in mind when reading further.
In my last article, I briefly addressed the stigma that is held on mental health. Although society's perceptions have been more accepting of mental illnesses, there is still a stain on the word that brands it from being talked about.
I frequently get feedback on my articles that are very forward and candid about my experiences with mental illness. Many show gratitude on my openness due to the same reason — mental illness is not talked about.
So many suffer in silence due to misconceptions about the term "mental illness." Out of the manifold articles I have published surrounding the theme of mental health, my objective has been to ease the stigma held on the subject matter and to reassure those who are suffering that you are not alone.
With this in mind, as long as mental health remains a taboo discussion, this will oftentimes be a subject matter I return to. From my point of view, to diminish this stigma, it is imperative to first acknowledge the misconceptions surrounding it. From there, society can start to appreciate the delicacy encompassing mental health and thus change their notions regarding it.
1. You aren't "crazy"
Looking at other words for "mental illness," it is astonishing to see some of the degrading and delusional synonyms. You are not "insane," "crazy," "delusional," "deranged," "disturbed." These words, or scars, left on the subject of mental health are what prevent people from getting help in fear of being labeled.
2. You deserve love
The phrase "to love others you must first love yourself" is, in essence, complete bullshit — it is already so hard to love ourselves, and we are expected to wait and vigorously work on ourselves before we can choose to love someone else. You can work on loving yourself while loving someone else. You deserve to be loved now, not in how many weeks, months, or years it takes to love yourself.
3. It isn't your fault
Although you can take steps to battle and prevent mental illness like destructing mental habits and practicing a healthy lifestyle, many factors like genetics and trauma play a huge role in mental illness. Don't put so much blame on yourself, and do the best you can.
4. Mental illness isn't a sign of weakness
Mental strength and mental health are two separate entities. Just as someone with a physical illness can be physically strong, someone with a mental illness can also be mentally strong — and most people who do suffer from mental illnesses are exceptionally strong.
5. You don't have to be ashamed
One thing that took me forever to overcome was accepting my mental illness — it's what keeps individuals from getting help for so long. It shouldn't be embarrassing or demeaning to come forward with mental health issues.
You don't have to be angry at it or continually try to rid of it either — practicing acceptance and acknowledging that it is a part of you maintains a healthy confidence level and prevents your mental illness from taking over.
6. It isn't black or white
Mental health is a continuum. An individual can fall anywhere on the spectrum. No one is just "mentally ill" or "mentally healthy." Compare it to someone with minor physical issues — someone who is mentally 'healthy' can experience trivial issues as well. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that less than a quarter of adults are in optimal mental health.
7. Mental health problems aren't forever
Although some mental health problems aren't curable, most are treatable. NAMI reports that between 70 and 90 percent of individuals experience relief with a combination of therapy and medication. Recovery is possible and the lows are not forever.
In order to help those who are suffering, it is imperative that we raise awareness and debunk these common misconceptions about mental health. End the stigma — it can save lives.