Stigma around Mental Health
By Navya Jain
Stigma, a deep pit that has such a tight hold on us that it gets hard to break free. Something that makes the person suffering feel ashamed about something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking help. Fighting in the battle with our mind is already a handful and stigma hits like bricks on the already wounded. Stigmatization of mental illness in society has grown to such heights that it affects an individual’s self-esteem or self-perception. An individual dealing with mental illness pushes through their day in silence without opening up in the fear of being stigmatized.
It is critical to stand up against these stigmas, especially in this day and age.
You can do so by talking about Mental Health openly. Celebrities like Demi Lovato, Jameela Jamil and many more have been breaking the stigma around seeking help and took their fans with them on their ugly and vigorous but inspirational journeys to recovery.
“I suffered from eating disorders as a teenager and so I know how damaging the ‘perfect’ image in magazines can be.” said Jameela Jamil in an interview.
Our society struggles with accepting mental illness and that’s why it's so important to start now. When an individual undergoes a physical accident, they are sent bouquets, flowers and plenty of visits by well-wishers. But when they have a panic attack or are admitted to the hospital because of a mental illness, they are shunned and gossiped about. Do you see what's happening here?
You might think it's unjust, but it’s the brutal truth and it's up to us to make an effort to change that. It can be terrifying going against what society is used to but you have to realise what is important to you and trust yourself.
One major reason why mental illness is stigmatized is because of the lack of knowledge. Prejudices and inaccurate facts dominate public opinion when it comes to mental health. People use phrases like, “You’re acting so bi-polar today”, “I’m super OCD about keeping my room clean” which are inaccurate. Unfortunately, these phrases are far too common and used in everyday conversations by many. This is obviously wrong, and shows a lack of knowledge.
Stigma is fuelled by a lack of awareness. Explain to your friends, family and other acquaintances about mental health and how it isn’t something to be ashamed of. An individual’s mental state doesn’t define who they are as a person. Encourage a person dealing with mental issues to seek advice from a professional. Support those who open up to you, you don’t know what they are going through. Support removes a significant barrier that prevents an individual from seeking help.
A little compassion never hurt anyone now, did it?