It saddens me that in 2013 we are still very much dealing with a strong stigma surrounding the Mentally Ill. Seeking help for a condition of the mind is seen as shameful and a sign of weakness. Mental Illness is pushed to the side by the government, as staff are overworked, and underpaid.
Everyday in social media I see a myriad of quotes on pictures that depict a person as being strong if they buck up and take their struggles on the chin. A kind of ‘pull your socks up’ approach to something that has a real impact on people’s lives everyday. It is through the continuation of this myth that admitting you aren’t sailing so smoothly that the stigma is allowed to thrive.
Being a martyr doesn’t help yourself, and especially not those around you. I hate this idea that I am weak because I share my problems, or that I take medications for those problems. If I had a broken bone I would seek medical treatment, and in fact would be seen as stupid if I didn’t. Help for our physical ailments is readily available, while many people don’t even know where to begin if they start to notice they are struggling.
A stay in hospital for a physical ailment sees a person showered in gifts, visitors and well wishers. While a stay in a psychiatric unit often makes people feel uncomfortable. Unsure what to say, whether to visit or afraid of the other patients and so refuse to visit.
The only answer to stigma is education. We need to start teaching people the facts, not relying on fear mongering that is portrayed in the media. Through working together we can remove the way of thinking that a person is horrible, or to be feared if they have a mental illness.
According to Sane Australia 20% of the population suffers from a mental illness in any one year. Mental Illness is not a 1 in a million sufferer illness, there is a chance that someone you know has suffered with a mental illness. People with a mental illness need support, not revulsion. With the right amount of support and medications many people who suffer from a long term mental illness can go on to lead successful lives.
I hope that by providing this space I can do my part to help chip away at the stigma. I hope that through talking about my experiences with mental illness that I can help people to feel that they aren’t so alone. If my blog makes even one person change their mind, then my job is done.
Linking up with Slapdash Mama for The Lounge.