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There are two words in the United States that no one ever wants to discuss. Do you know what those two words are? Mental Illness. Say it with me. Mental Illness. Unfortunately, those two words at times, come along with a negative connotation towards a person or a given situation. Mental illness is a disorder that causes disturbances in cognitive thinking, behavior and with severe cases the inability to cope with life’s demands. It can range from anxiety and depression to anorexia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and so much more.
It is documented that millions of people suffer from mental disorders in a year, and those are just the documented ones. Why?? Several reasons come to mind, including fear, lack of access to healthcare, and the stigma associated with a mental disorder.
Fear is a big obstacle when addressing mental health. There is fear of the unknown and fear of losing control. When one tries to discuss something so personal with others, fear is a factor that can be scary and most people try to avoid circumstances and situations that frighten them. It is more comfortable at times to bury the feelings rather than address them head-on.
There is also an insufficiency in access to healthcare to address mental health issues. Often people who need help and are willing to ask for it, are turned away due to not having a referral, not being in-network for an insurance provider or not having insurance at all. This is a big problem! Big insurance companies and referrals should not be a deciding factor on whether or not someone needs help (and is willing to ask for it.)
The last factor, and in my opinion, the biggest one is the stigma. Most people don’t want to ask for help to address specific issues for the stigma associated with it and being labeled. Labels cause people to panic or get upset, which in turn causes fear. Labels are a problem on many levels from kids to adults. No one ever wants to be labeled or devalued. It is wrong to treat another person with disrespect and labeling someone because they are different or need to ask for help with something is wrong.
The title of this article is “Can we solve mental illness?” We can, and we will solve mental illness when we as people, recognize that it is not an illness like the flu or something else, but rather a disorder that needs to be treated in a manner as such. It is learning how to deal with the disorder through medication, therapy and/or making adjustments so that you can live your fullest and best life. It is learning that it is OK to ask for help when times are tough, without fear of judgment or ridicule. And the biggest obstacle that we need to realize as humans is to treat one another with respect and kindness always. When someone asks for help, they should be praised for having the courage to open up and admit they need it and they should be loved for realizing that it is OK to ask for that help.