The Stigma Around Mental Health

possibly one of my favorite articles I’ve written for the newspaper

The statistics are staggering, 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness, that’s 20 percent of our population. Mental health is taboo. Especially in this day in age where everyone is joking about killing themselves, or harming themselves in some way. You never really know when someone is joking or not in those cases. My English teacher said that people who make those jokes, to a certain degree they aren’t joking.

I’m guilty of making those jokes, as are many of my friends. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I feel as if I can barely talk about it unless it is a joking manner. Albeit, my anxiety isn’t debilitating, it still can cause me to not participate in things, and it’s hard to explain what you’re feeling to someone who doesn’t understand. How do you say you feel as if the world is going in concave in on you in a way that doesn’t sound over-dramatic? It’s like my brain is a TV, but someone else is controlling the remote. I can’t control my anxiety, as much as I wish I could.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know that to a certain degree, they most likely aren’t joking when they do say those type of things. Yes, it’s a coping mechanism for some and with our generation’s morbid sense of humor, it’s hard to tell the difference. I believe that mental health should be taken more seriously in school than what it actually is.

Yes, our teachers are supposed to report when someone is showing signs of depression, but do they actually? If they did, then pretty much every high schooler would be reported for making those type of jokes. They might say they can’t tell who is joking or not, but it’s become such a normal thing in today’s society for someone to suffer from some type of mental illness.

In the United States, for people between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Untreated depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. According to the National Comorbidity Survey: Adolescent Supplement, 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18.

There is such a stigma that surrounds mental health and illnesses, nobody wanting to talk about it until someone famous passes away due to suicide. Then, they only talk about it for the next couple weeks, littering the internet with fake reminders to check up on your friends and people close to you. It is important to check up on your friends, but don’t do it because you feel obligated to. Do it because you care about their well-being, after all, they are your friends.

With stigma comes a lack of understanding of important others, which can be invalidating and painful. This can lead to isolation and shame. Stigma can also lead to harassment, bullying, and even violence. People with mental illnesses have faced discrimination in many aspects of life. Stigma also prevents people from seeking help or getting treatment, and as a result, their symptoms become worse and more difficult to treat.

It’s a never ending cycle, no one cares about mental health until a celebrity dies, and then suddenly it matters to everyone for a couple weeks, one month max. This is the same with school shootings and other tragedies. They happen so often, it’s almost become a routine. There is only one way to end this routine: Talk about it. Talk about mental health, in non-joking, non-condescending way. Acknowledge that people with mental health issues are still people. End the routine. End the stigma.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. What a wonderful article. YES YES YES. There’s not really a lot I can add except… I completely, whole-heartedly agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much! it’s a topic i’m rather passionate about and i’m so glad other people agree.

      Liked by 1 person

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