Stop the stigma against mental illness

By Amanda Patch ‘17

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Imagine suffering from a serious disease and being afraid to ask for help because of how doctors, friends, family and everyday people might react. It doesn’t even seem realistic. If someone is sick, he gets help. That’s just the way it works. However, that’s not the way it works for everyone suffering from an illness.Similar to people with mental illnesses who are challenged constantly, they live the everyday struggle of symptoms and disabilities that come with the disease they suffer from and then are challenged and questioned by the stereotypes and negative stigmas that come from misinterpretations and uniformed opinions from others. Every day they wake up and have to balance taking care of the illnesses they suffer and learn to block out the background noise of negative comments and disgusted stares.According to, more than 60% of people that are aware they suffer from a mental illness do not seek help because of how they think they people around them might react. There is no reason that someone suffering from a disease should be afraid to seek help whether his disease is physical or mental. If someone is diagnosed with cancer, he is encouraged to go seek help. Why aren’t people with mental illnesses encouraged?Mental illnesses are three times more common than any type of physical illness, yet there are 12 times less treatment facilities to help patients with mental illnesses. Not only are mentally ill people discouraged from seeking help, if they do want to seek help, their options are extremely limited.According to Psychology Today, 95% of the mass shootings in the U.S. have been started and performed by people who suffer from mental illnesses. If someone knew there was a way to try and bring these shooting to a stop, he would be ready to do what he can, but if they knew the way to do it was to help the mentally ill, they’d be shocked.Psychologist Molly Raskin talked about sessions she had with people who suffered from a mental illness, and they all shared common traits. Raskin said, “Even though they all suffered from different mental conditions, they all say the same thing. They feel trapped. They feel like they are constantly being targeted, which makes them feel the need to target back.”The fact that they feel trapped isn’t helping their condition. It’s only making it worse. Thirty-two% of people who suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, OCD, ADHD and bipolar disorders do acts of self-arm, try to commit suicide, and actually do commit suicide.If someone with a physical illness felt as if his only option was to end his life, a change would be made. But the fact that this is the way people with mental illnesses feel, no one wants to make a change because he doesn’t want to “deal” with it.Mental illness are just as serious as physical illness, and the negative stigma against people with mental illnesses needs to stop. People who suffer from mental illnesses deserve to and should be helped with the same amount of resources as people with physical illnesses.By stopping the stigma, we can create a comfortable world where people aren’t constantly worried about using the words mental illness or suicide without whispering. By stopping the stigma, we can take mental and physical illnesses out of different categories and put them under the same category.

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