We’ve talked several times about mental illness and well-being in these health articles, but there’s a good reason for that. The topic of mental health remains a misunderstood and misdiagnosed problem in today's society.
Although progress has been made in recent years to raise awareness, it's been a slow monotonous process. This is a precious time for those that suffer from mental illness.
One of the main problems is that you can’t see it — it’s an invisible ailment. If someone is missing a leg, you instantly know they suffered some sort of trauma or deficit to their body. If someone is sick, coughing, and has trouble breathing you instantly know there’s something wrong.
Because these are easily identifiable physical deficiencies it’s easy to feel sympathy and understanding for their predicament. But what about those that show no outward signs of pain or trauma? What if the only thing that’s going wrong is a chemical imbalance?
It’s unfortunately easy to pass over these individuals. Although there are signs that a person is suffering mentally, they’re not so obvious. And, if we’re being honest, it’s harder to empathize with those problems if we’ve never experienced them. It’s easy with physical ailments, as we’ve all experienced some level of pain and sickness. But not all of us will experience extreme levels of fear, depression and stress.
Being scared that one time a friend pulled a prank on you doesn’t count as understanding.
A reported 26% of the U.S. population — a startling quarter of our society — has some sort of mental illness, according to John Hopkins Medicine.
Death by suicide is still a large problem, with one adult dying every 12 minutes within the U.S. (save.org.) Depression and anxiety, largely treatable issues are two of the most common illnesses plaguing Americans.
We need to educate ourselves and shed this stigma that continues to be a dark cloud hanging over our heads. When you shed the stigma, it no longer possesses as much power over a person's life.
The simple act of caring and reaching out to someone could change their life, possibly even save it.
For resources and information, go to mentalhealth.gov.