One out of every five people in America will suffer from a mental illness this year.
With numbers this high, it’s important to be able to talk openly about the subject of mental health. Mental illness still has a stigma around it; therefore it’s necessary to speak out about the importance of mental health and inspire others to become more open minded and excepting of those around them. Keep reading to learn about nine of the many reasons to discuss mental health.
1. Stigma leads to discrimination.
You may think the term “stigma” and “discrimination” mean different things. However, they both serve the same purpose. Society has a history of portraying people with mental illnesses as “bad,” or like there’s something wrong with them.
It’s important to understand that they aren’t bad. They simply see the world in a different way. The stigma surrounding mental illness is a concept that only holds momentum if you’re uneducated about mental illness.
2. Your mental health and physical health are both important.
Many people tend to sweep mental illnesses under the rug. They act as if it isn’t as important as your physical health. They’re wrong.
According to a study done in 2003, a group of people who had both depression and arthritis were treated for their mental illness. The result? The patients said they felt less pain when treated for their depression. The mind-body connection is real — and it proves that it’s just as important to take care of your mind.
3. People are scared to speak out.
If four out of every five people we met on the planet were aliens, wouldn’t you feel a bit strange? With all of the stigma against mental illness, these people feel like they live in an alien world. And when people feel isolated, they get scared.
If it’s not okay to talk about mental health openly, where can these people turn? Where do family members and friends go for help?
You need to make people with mental illnesses feel comfortable. Everybody deserves to be comfortable on this planet.
4. People with mental illnesses may go off their meds.
People want to fit in. And they may take drastic measures to do so. How can they accomplish this? Well, if they want to be like everyone else, they’ll just stop taking their medication.
Medication is not a weakness.
People take medication and go to therapy for a reason. If anything, it takes strength to have the courage to understand and seek help. People shouldn’t be stigmatized because they take medication to help them.
5. The workplace environment.
Everything you say in confidence to an HR representative isn’t going to get out. However, with the stigma of mental illness all around us, it isn’t that farfetched to think that people with mental illnesses in the workplace don’t feel safe.
A report said that 200 million work days are lost every year to depression alone. If the people suffering from mental illnesses had a safe place to talk about their issues, maybe that number wouldn’t be so high. People should be able to go to their place of work and feel comfortable seeking help if a situation arises.
6. Untreated mental illnesses are shown to correlate with violence and crime.
Studies of untreated mental illness indicate that people who don’t seek treatment for their condition are more likely to end up in a crime situation. Those without treatment are at greater risk.
Once again, the stigma of mental illness may lead to the harm of an individual, and possibly even death. People with an untreated mental illness are 2.7 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime (when compared to the general population). It’s important to talk about. Lives depend on it.
7. Family members and friends need help.
A person who has a mental illness shouldn’t have to go through the process alone. Family and friends can help. However, where does the family turn to when they need help? Taking care of a person with a mental illness (no matter how mild) is sometimes a daunting task. Both family and friends should feel comfortable discussing their experiences in a non-judgmental environment.
8. It’s common decency.
Simple, but true. People with mental illnesses are just like everybody else. They are human beings and deserve respect. If people don’t take the time to understand them, that’s where stigma rears its ugly head. Instead, try to learn about it.
Talk with people about it. Talking helps!
9. You are happier and live longer.
If you’re too afraid to acknowledge mental illness, you’ll ignore the warning signs. And these signs can turn into physical problems. If you talk to someone, it can alleviate pain in your mind and your body.
A study from the British Medical Journal found that people with mental illnesses have a lower life expectancy. If you seek help for your issues, you’ll feel better — and you may just increase the days you’re alive.
Mental illness isn’t a scary — it’s simply misunderstood. Take time and do research and be empathetic towards others’ situations. It’s time to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.