Writing about mental health, specifically about mental diseases requires courage and sensitivity at the same time. According to WHO (World Health Organization) “one in five people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological diseases at some point in their lives.”
If you believe that you won’t be affected just because you lead a healthy lifestyle, or that just stressed people will fall ill, you’re wrong. It can happen to everyone, even to the best of us. It can be the boy who you’ve just befriended, your aunt or the lady at the shop who’s selling fancy clothes. However, one should know that a mental disease doesn’t appear suddenly. Different factors have to be taken in consideration so that the disease can develop. There are multiple reasons why people fall mentally ill. You can develop a depression, become schizophrenic or simply become burnt out.
Some are more resistant than others and will probably never become mentally ill. But why don’t we talk openly about it? Sometimes, having a disease like cancer seems more acceptable in society than suffering from a mental illness. To be honest, nobody would dare to tell their flatmate that they had a schizophrenic episode when they were younger. The person would rather say: ‘I was seriously ill.’ Is this simply a short sentence with a powerful message? Not always, because your contemporaries might get a vague idea of what your illness was. The fact that being mentally ill is connected to madness, shows us that we still have these preconceived ideas about mental health. We would rather keep a certain distance from people who are described as being ‘strange’. We tend to behave in this way, because we ignore what this person is actually going through. However, knowing about their mental illness could easily explain the behaviour that we find slightly disturbing.
We’re not sufficiently informed of mental illness and this is the major reason why it is a taboo in our society. All mental diseases are linked to personal stories. Some are exciting to hear, while others just make us cry. In order to break that taboo, people have to free themselves from these constraints and connect with people who are suffering from a mental disease. Eventually, the victims also have to leave their comfort-zone, which isn’t easy, because the risk of being misunderstood is high and you might feel terrible afterwards.
Mental health awareness is essential to improve this critical situation. It allows people to change their perspective and to become tolerant towards victims of mental disorders. Introducing mental health in subjects like biology for instance, might help adolescents to become aware of the fact that everyone can fall mentally ill and support those who have had to undergo this painful process at any stage in their lives.
In addition, I think that this quotation by Eleanor Roosevelt should make you think and reflect on mental health: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Remember that you are not alone, and don’t lose hope. Just because you had to suffer, it doesn’t make you less normal than other people. You will learn to become stronger and have a different outlook on life, but don’t let your illness get out of hand when you have dreams to fulfil.
Much love, HCXO.