North Texas Daily

Mental illness is not a monster

Mental illness is not a monster

Mental illness is not a monster
March 26
08:00 2022

Content warning: this story contains language and content related to suicide and mental health issues, viewer discretion is advised. 

Stigmas surrounding mental illness have been all but positive for as long as we can remember. We, as a society with ethics and morals, must make an effort to change that.

Thinking people are faking mental illness for attention, that it’s a choice to be depressed or anxious and not being accepting of those with mental health issues are all huge aspects that contribute to the negative stereotypes surrounding mental illnesses.

These negative stereotypes cost us thousands of lives each year. In the United States, there are 130 deaths each day caused by suicide. 

On March 1, Stanford student and soccer player Katie Meyer lost her life to suicide. This incident may be linked to the lack of mental health aid she got as she faced disciplinary action from her school, which is the only explanation her parents proposed.

The fact that a significant amount of attention around mental health issues only surges after tragic incidents similar to Meyer’s is disgraceful. It is selfish and ignorant of us, as a collective group of people, to be so nonchalant about the lack of attention surrounding mental health.

Living, let alone thriving, with mental illness is not an easy thing to do, especially with the less-than-kind views a lot of people have. With around one in five Americans dealing with mental health issues on a day-to-day basis, this is unacceptable.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents to a survey done by MentalHelp.net believe that individuals who have a mental illness face extreme discrimination and have to unfairly battle stigmatized treatment within their day-to-day lives, which often directly contributes to and increases their struggles with mental illness.

This situation could not be more accurate. Writing this as an adult in America with mental illness, I can verify there are clear preferences toward non-mentally ill individuals over mentally ill individuals in almost every aspect of life.

The inability to maintain a stable job, the inability to handle stress in a mature manner and the incapability to hold a position of leadership are all ways in which people with mental health issues are stereotyped, specifically within their workplace. These prejudices hold no truth to them and they must be left behind as we move toward a more positive and accepting mindset regarding mental health.

In a world where there are multitudes upon multitudes of different people with issues that vary in so many ways, there is no room anywhere for any type of unkind or presumptuous thoughts. To judge others based on stereotypes alone is to be insensitive to the diversity of not just the United States, but the world. No human is the same, therefore no reaction to something, no handling of a difficult situation and especially no mental illness is the same.

This being said, there are obviously common indicators and inferences that must be made, generally speaking, regarding mental illness. Making accommodations and knowing how to react based on how others with similar situations have acted in the past is what helps us to be more inclusive overall.

It would be irresponsible to blindly go into every situation with zero background knowledge and no idea how to handle a situation, and the same idea applies to accommodating those with mental health issues. Knowing the things someone struggles with within a broad sense, knowing how they may possibly react to something and knowing how to help them in a situation where they are struggling are all incredibly important things. 

Doing research (be it personal and geared directly toward the individual or general, broad things about their mental illness) prior to interacting with someone with a certain mental health issue is incredibly thoughtful and is the inclusive thing to do.

As mental illness becomes more and more normalized, as it should be, it is also important to stay up to date on respectful terminology and treatment of those who have a mental illness. Certain words and actions that used to be completely fine to use are not anymore, and it is imperative to be knowledgeable about these things to avoid insulting someone.

Overall, the fight for mental health equality among those who don’t have mental health issues is an ongoing one. While strides toward fair treatment are made often, it is a difficult thing to change people’s minds entirely. Be kind to your friends and neighbors and family members who may be struggling, proving to those with prejudiced thoughts that hatred and intolerance have zero place in society today.

Featured Illustration By Miranda Thomas

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Natalie VanDerWal

Natalie VanDerWal

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