The World Health Organisation defines Health as “A state of physical, mental and social well-being in which disease and infirmity are absent”. People often tend to forget that “mental” well-being is a key part of being a healthy person. Mental health stigma is something that is deep seated in our society. Prejudice runs deep and this often prevents those in need from seeking help.
Society often brandishes people with mental illness as “abnormal”. But it goes far beyond being “normal” or “abnormal”. Person’s with mental illness experience dysfunctions in their mind and body, and it is crucial to treat them with respect. It is important to empathise with their internal struggle, and acknowledge the battle that one with mental illness is fighting everyday. And as mental health professionals, family and friends, it is our job to assist them in this battle. Instead of using labels like “crazy” or “that depressed girl”, it is important to redefine mental illness as something that is treatable, rather than it being a part of their identity. Encouraging conversations around the importance of mental health, normalising the simple act of seeking help from a professional, are a few things that go a long way in decreasing this stigma.
It is as simple as if an individual had a fall and bled, they would go to the doctor to cover up and patch up their wound. Similarly a person suffering from a mental health problem does require to seek help from a mental health professional. The scars from mental illness might be invisible, but they are very much real.
Redefining the stigma starts with ourselves, and it begins at home. One must introspect and question our beliefs, the beliefs of our families and society, and help those close to us understand what really is the need of the hour. In order to assist people through their journey to attain optimal mental health, one must also be open-minded, accepting and non-judgemental. It’s a complex mix of individuals, families, societies, media and governments , who can help overcome this stigma. The shift from stigmatising “Mental Illness” to promoting “Mental Wellness” is an extreme need in today’s world. “There is no health without mental health” and this should be our new mantra.
Dreistadt, J. R. (2016). Redefining Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com
Shuman, C. (2019). Mental Health Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.drcarlamessenger.com
Copyright – Mehek Rohira