Unless you’ve been hibernating I’m sure you’ve hard of ’13 Reasons Why’ by now, and many of you will have watched it! It really is brilliant and something I found not only gripping to watch, but enlightening in relation to many serious issues and the impact they can have. There are a few issues I have but I suppose you can’t please everyone all of the time.
It is rare for mental health to be portrayed within the media in a positive light. From films to books, news channels to songs, mental illness is often portrayed in a negative light. Those who suffer with their mental health are usually the villains in the plot, the dangerous characters that we should fear. When watching the news the criminals are often described as having ‘mental health issues’, a label that people therefore associate with danger. Now we shouldn’t ignore the fact that some mental illnesses do cause aggressive behaviour, and that aggressive behaviour is not a sign of flawed personality but part of an illness. A symptom of an illness that we should not judge. Although to associate those that suffer with their mental health as dangerous or violent criminals is wrong and couldn’t be further from the truth. Often those who suffer with their mental health are more likely to be the victims of crime.
The word stigma is used a lot in my blogs but what does it mean and why does it matter? The Oxford dictionary defines stigma as being ‘ a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person’. Within society, although things have improved in recent years, there is still a stigma towards mental illness which can really impact sufferers and often leave them feeling isolated. The mental health foundation explain stigma and discrimination against mental illness really well. You can read all about it HERE.
With 1 in 4 people experiencing mental illness in their lives we have to ask why do we allow this stigma to exist? I feel there are a two main reasons for this,
- Lack of education
It is clear there is a lack of education towards mental health, but I feel regardless, its an empty excuse. A lack of understanding and knowledge towards mental health combined with old fashioned superstitions have created a society where we run to help those with a poorly heart yet run away from those with a poorly brain. When did this become acceptable?
Anyone that feels they may be guilty of judging those with a mental health condition (and don’t worry you’re not alone) if your reason for this is a lack of education then consider the possibility it is also due to ignorance. In this day and age it is so easy to read up on things, google is quite literally in the palm of our hands most of the time. I am constantly watching a series on netflix and begin to wonder who plays the main character, it literally takes two minutes and i can have the answer. It is that easy.
If your confused as to the symptoms or causes of an illness, research it. Look it up and try to understand instead of judging because we have the tools to do so. Ignorance may also be challenged by researching something because mental illness isn’t something that affects a select few, 1 in 4. That’s a huge percentage of society so lets to try understand and then we can help.
The disparity between physical and mental illness is bewildering and something we need to end. Both should be treated with kindness and so instead of asking ‘what do you have to be depressed about?’ maybe ask ‘what can I do to help?’
I feel not everyone will agree with this blog, and there is some tension within the blogging community right now but I have to write what I feel and welcome others opinions. As a mental health blogger I want to promote a real change in people perceptions of illness, using my own experiences. My experiences may not match with other peoples and there in lies the conflict, people will disagree sometimes but I hope we all see the bigger picture in creating and promoting a real social change in regards to mental health discussions.
No mental health condition should be undermined or measured on severity. Mental health bloggers ask others not not judge mental illness or aid the stigma around it so lets not do that ourselves. Lets celebrate those brave enough to discuss their own battles in the hopes of helping others.
As always remember, it’s okay to talk