September 1, 2014

Why We Should Talk About Mental Health

Growing up is hard. Life is hard. But life with mental illness is harder when we still live in a time where there is a stigma attached to mental illness.

People say that, apart from therapy and counseling, the best way to address your own mental illness is to talk to family and friends and ask them for support, yet with such a stigma attached to mental health, one can find it hard to do so for fear of them rejecting you. "This person doesn't have their shit together" or "Wow, you're such a downer" are the biggest fears I've faced growing up, but the biggest fear is appearing weak in asking for help. Losing friends and even employment are consequences that can and do happen just for trying to reach out for help.

depression I'm fine just tired

That's what I dislike most about how our society deals with mental health. We can openly talk about how we've broken bones or how sick we got the night before, yet mental health is an awkward conversation that often reeks of patronizing and forced sympathy. It's almost as if people with mental illness and invisible disabilities are just that: invisible.

depression feel lost comic

There are also organizations out there that cater to people with mental health illness but seem to lack the necessary training that should be required to serve their clients. To enable a person when they're having a breakdown or a manic episode is cruel and disgusting, and to purposely raise them on edge just to see what happens for your own entertainment should cause you to lose your job and seek a different career path.

When you notice that a person is having an episode, the first thing you need to do is ensure that they feel safe. You support them, you comfort them, and you help them in anyway that you can.

comforting depression comic

When you are an organization that provides housing for people with mental illness, if they are at a level of functioning that would deem placement in a group home as unneeded, then you place them into a home with independent support living, a house with generally two or three housemates and a staff member for each of them, not a group home that consists of three or more housemates and only one staff to care for each.

I wouldn't say that the public at large needs to become aware of disabilities; in my state they seem pretty aware. We have county boards that provide services and aid in employment for people with disabilities, as well as the recent Partnership for Hope waiver. Rather, I'd say that the public needs to be more aware of how to properly care for people with disabilities and various invisible illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders.

These are changes I hope to see in my lifetime, and that's why I work diligently in mental health activism, and why you should too.

time to change

Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to leave a comment, share with your friends and like our Facebook page!

author Tiger Craven About Tiger
Tiger is a 22 year old college student, activist, and professional living in the Saint Louis metro area. When he's not being apathetic to the idea of God or writing about atheism, he is serving a presidential term for a mental health organisation and a board membership of another, does public speaking about mental illness and disability, and is a photographer and a bassist.