Stigma and Facts
If a family member fell down the stairs and broke their wrist, would you idly stand by as they endured the throbbing pain? If a friend was drowning, chances are you would throw out a life vest or jump right in after them; you would do what it took to save that friend. If you had a trembling fever, a sore throat, or a persistent cough, more than likely, you would seek medical help.As the decent and empathetic individuals we all like to perceive ourselves as, it is likely we believe we do our part to help those we care about. But can we truly say we are doing all that we can for the suffering that perhaps doesn’t scream as loud, doesn’t look as intense, or in’t talked about as much? It is the unfortunate truth that as a society we tend to turn a blind eye to those affected by a mental disorder.
While we like to minimize it as a trivial concern or reduce the scope of its reach in our minds, the facts are that tens of millions of people suffer from mental illness in the United States and yet only about half of those receive treatment. Part of this is about stigma and our tendency to regard help as weakness. But again, we have to ask ourselves, is it weak to go and get necessary antibiotics, to wear a life jacket when in the ocean, or to put a broken limb in a cast? Most would reply that those aids are not only expected but are the smart responses to such cases, so why do we allow treatment for mental illness to be any different?
About 1 in 4 Americans have a diagnosable mental illness, with suicide being the 4th leading cause of death in the
US for adults. It more likely to encounter a person in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Mental disordrs are more common than heart disease and cancer combined. In light of these facts, we can no longer rationally accept neglect as a treatment for such illness. Its time that the negative stigma associated with mental health and aid is what is minimized, while seeking treatment and starting the conversation is normalized.