Mental Illness: Why We Need to Address it

This past summer, the world was in shock when famous comedian and Academy Award-winning actor, Robin Williams, abruptly committed suicide at age 63. A man who gave us all unlimited reasons to laugh, who was admired by ten-year-olds and 60-year-olds alike, had been so deeply troubled and unhappy for much of his life. He had been battling depression and fighting his own personal “demons,” all whilst helping us to fight ours. Yet, the disease unfortunately got the best of him and he left much too early. Even President Obama lent credence to Mr. Williams’s incredible strength: “He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

That said, the world was stunned when Mr. Williams left, and the serious effects of mental illness began to illicit a public response: something must be done. Action must be taken so those who feel hopeless have an outlet in which they can regain their hope. Yet, now there is another public figure, clearly mentally ill, who is being unscrupulously mocked by the media.

Amanda Bynes boasts an impressive resume. She has been adored by many since her adolescent days on Nickelodian and for her hit movies, What a Girl Wants and Big Fat Liar, among others. Now, she has been in psychiatric care on and off for the past two years – last year, she threw her bong out of the window of her New York City apartment, which happened to be on the 36th floor. Just this week, she accused her father of sexual abuse, and then withdrew her statement, saying, “My dad never did any of those things. The microchip in my brain made me say those things, but he’s the one that ordered them to microchip me.” Her statements on twitter and all over the media show a profoundly troubled young woman, and the same compassion that was extended to Robin Williams has been absent for Amanda Bynes.

In the end, what is the difference? The young actress is still here and needs support from her fans, instead of the parody that is being made of her. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that suicide is third on the leading causes of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24. Bynes has been said to be schizophrenic and bipolar, both of which are mental illnesses connected to high rates of suicide. Why wait until it’s too late? Mental illness is not something to joke around with, and is a serious issue in today’s society that must be responsibly addressed.