Mental illness is the dirt in our houses that we sweep under the rug. If no one else sees it, then it does not exist. If no one sees it dose it exist.
Although mental illness cannot always be seen, it is still present and is an issue. We as individuals and as a society fail to realize the impact mental illness can have on a person’s life.
When we talk, we start to understand. When we understand, we are able to help.
Some people in our society may refuse the impact mental illness has because they have never experienced one for themselves. Look around, there are people all around us coping with mental illness.
As a society, we turn our backs and silence them. Everyone needs to be heard and deserves a chance to speak up and seek help.
The stigma of mental illness prevents those who are suffering to do these things. Due to fear, shame, guilt, and other emotions individuals lose their chance to receive the help they need to progress.
I am one of those individuals.
I live my life in a bubble filled with darkness, fear and judgement. I fear people won’t listen or believe what I say because they cannot see the true pain I endure. I do not want others to judge me for the things I do, because they cannot understand what is going on inside my mind. As a result, there is a constant rain cloud over my head.
Living life this way and feeling shameful is no way to live.
No one should feel shameful for having a mental illness or for seeking help. Mental illnesses are not personal weaknesses or a character defect. It is a condition caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness describes mental illness as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.
One in five adults experiences a mental health condition every year. Half of mental health conditions begin by the age of 14, and 75 percent of mental health conditions develop by age 24.
Recognizing these statistics, mental illness can affect anyone at any age. Mental illnesses can add additional difficulties throughout day to day life.
The American Psychiatric Association said learning about developing symptoms, or early warning signs and taking action can help. Early intervention can help reduce the severity of an illness.
The earlier we start to talk openly and educate ourselves on the issue the easier we can recognize the signs and symptoms, which can result in providing those who suffer and their loved ones the proper information faster on how and where to get help.
It is true, there are many lists of hotlines one can find online, but shouldn’t there be more involvement than only that.
Oklahoma has plenty of programs, services, and treatment centers for mental illness.
For example, The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oklahoma has eight affiliates throughout the state that facilitate support groups, conduct education programs, and send speakers out into the community. NAMI’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by mental illness through support, education and advocacy.
Lisa Deane, whose name asked to be changed for this article, attends a NAMI support group. She believes talking and sharing at least parts of your situation can be very therapeutic.
“Just the simple verbal release of pent-up stress, sadness, concern, and worry can give you the power and strength to move forward, to understand, to be emotionally prepared to love and be supportive,” she said.
Lack of communication and involvement can cause the person suffering from mental illness to feel misunderstood and alone. Due to such strong negative emotions and negative judgement, they may reach inside themselves instead of reaching out. Having to deal with their emotions and mental illness alone can cause an unhealthy lifestyle and life choices.
Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Data from the National Association of State Mental Health Program shows that adults in the U.S. living with a serious mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
Statistics show that nearly 60 percent of adults with a mental illness did not receive mental health services, and almost 50 percent of youth aged 8-15 did not receive mental health services in 2014.
Untreated mental illnesses can cause additional emotional, behavioral, or physical health problems. Some people who suffer from mental illness may begin to have suicidal thoughts and even attempt suicide. According to Mental Health America, most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. As stated by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services more than 90 perent of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
Why are we not doing more to prevent these problems?
People feel uncomfortable and shy away from this issue because they do not fully understand. Staying silent, not recognizing what is going on is not in any way going to help solve the problem.
Communication and involvement brings awareness and with it support and understanding. When we feel comfortable and okay with talking and sharing our stories then we can start to heal, start to help others, and start to improve the issue.
In order to change society’s outlook on mental illness we need to start talking. Once we communicate and get involved, sufferers will not feel the need to sweep their problems to the side and hide.
I am tired of hiding.
I try to convince others that I am okay, when in reality, I am not. I want to start communicating, show my support, and help others just like me.
We can be in denial and stay silent all we want, but no matter what we do mental illness will continue to be an issue. It is time to communicate, get involved and speak out. Silence should no longer be an option.