Let’s face it, in today’s world, people still have ridiculous and unrealistic beliefs about mental illness. Consider the recent Las Vegas shooting, which in itself was a tragedy. There are more people stating that the fact that he was on antipsychotic medication and had mental health issue was the cause instead of looking at things such as the gun laws, and other underlying reasons behind what happened. Even though in the US, it’s easier to buy a semiautomatic assault rifle then get a prescription for a controlled substance.
When people make accusations similar to these, considering the fact that it’s 2017, it truly shows just how little the world understands mental health issues still. People still take things such as stigma and other stereotypes or outdated information and consider them in a higher regard than the actual facts, which are backed by medical research and evidence.
This type of mentality takes away from the seriousness of mental health troubles. It makes them seem as if we should fear the people diagnosed with a mental health issue instead of actually understanding them and the daily frustrations and struggles that they endure.
When it comes to mental health awareness it’s not merely saying things such as “oh stigma is so wrong” or posting things to look socially conscious on your Facebook wall. It’s actually doing something and taking a stand against stigma, anyone can post on social media and say I’m socially responsible. In truth, unless you’re actually do something, and see mental illness and the issues that go along with it for what it actually is, then really you’re doing absolutely zilch!
Granted, not everyone has a degree in the following areas: nursing, psychology, medicine or pharmacology. Even without a degree, though, doing small things can help a person a large deal.
People need to actually understand exactly how much of an issue stigma really is, and make a conscious effort to do something about it. Thinking and living our lives thinking that the harmful things we put out in the world have a negative impact on people who are diagnosed with a mental health issue, isn’t our responsibility is no different than assaulting someone and saying it’s not my problem that I hurt that person.
Let’s take a look at a few things that take hardly any effort to make a person’s life less difficult. Especially when that individual’s life is already more complicated than it should be. We should be assisting and doing our part to alleviate people’s problems, instead of adding to their problems and making their lives worse.
- Please stop holding it against employees when they have doctor appointments, particularly when those appointments are for an ongoing condition. Be supportive instead of making them feel like less of an employee. A person should never have to feel bad or guilty when dealing with a mental or medical condition, both are valid medical conditions.
- Respect your employees and coworkers if somebody at work communicates they were belittled due to a co-worker. Treat it no differently than someone discriminating against a person based on their color or gender.
- If someone needs things explained more than once or explained in a certain manner, don’t threaten to dismiss them or make them feel stupid. Explain it so that they understand, instead of threatening them.
- Help your child learn about their condition.
- Look at what you do to make their lives easier and also what you do to make their lives more difficult.
- Don’t make them feel like as if they are a burden.
- Do things to help build your child up, so others can’t tear them down.
- Respect their boundaries
- Don’t make them feel bad or guilty for requiring a medication.
- Don’t put your own opinions in front of a qualified medical professional. Regardless of what you think, they know more than you about your child’s health.
- Take ownership of the damaging things you do instead of doing them more. Learn from your mistakes, and better yourself.
- Don’t make a person’s medical condition and the serious issues that go along with it into a joke.
- Don’t make them feel as if they are a bad friend for dealing with their issues ahead of your friendship sometimes.
- Don’t belittle them for needing support.
- Support them instead of treating them as if they are a burden or just want attention.
- See things for what they really are, instead of seeing them based on nothing more on your own uneducated opinion.
- Don’t neglect the things that you say and do in relation to the way they impact another person’s life.
- Stop allowing the media shape your personal opinion, especially when they are using one-sided biased opinions.
- Confirmation bias of any sort just manipulates the actual facts. Experience things for what they are, not just from your own perspective.
Lastly mental health awareness actually isn’t a topic anyone should take lightly. I have ADHD, and having a mental health issue myself, it’s honestly tough, even when you have in all of the proper support systems in place.
When we neglect the things people struggle with and hold it against them, we are doing nothing but making a person’s life that much more unnecessarily difficult than it already is. We should be understanding, and empathetic, not judgmental and apathetic.
Mental Health Stigma is not a character defect, Mental Illness is a valid medical condition.
- Know the difference
- Understand the difference
- Make a difference
Discrimination is discrimination, whether it’s based on race, religious beliefs, nationality, and yes, mental illness. Our society for some reason shows more apathy towards mental health issues than empathy, which is something that we should be ashamed of, especially when a person’s life is seen with so little value. We should be embarrassed about not being able to look past our own uneducated opinions.
Plain and simple, just like the title says, It’s 2017 There Really is No Excuse for Stigma and Ignorance.