Mental Health Perceptions in Today’s Society

When a close friend or family member is diagnosed with a mental illness this can throw the whole family into disarray. Thankfully more and more awareness about mental health is emerging in society, yet this still a stigma surrounding mental health and those that suffer from it in one way or another. People who have mental health issues have enough to deal with, without also having to deal with ignorance or worse, being seen as less than others. Many people who suffer through this illness find an amazing inner strength that we all have, yet it is only brought to the surface in those who need it most. If everybody educated themselves about the different mental health issues, it would not be as big of an issue as it is today. This is largely due to the fact that people have preconceived ideas about what it means to be mentally unwell, yet many of these have no basis on fact.I asked the question of what mental health means to some people. One person had a family member who was diagnosed with bi-polar. She mentioned an all-too common scenario when dealing with someone who has a mental condition. That is denial. Some people will deliberately avoid being ‘marked’ as having a mental condition so they will suffer in silence simply to avoid the back-lash that comes from society. They can even go as far as not taking their medication, which depending on what condition they suffer from, can put themselves or others in potential danger.Many people who treat a person with mental illness as different do not see the person as ‘normal’ therefore they do not consider the implications of their actions or words. Yet a mentally ill person still has feelings and emotions and can be negatively impacted by the sometimes harshness of society. On the other hand though, a simply act of kindness can make an individual’s day.Then there is the issue between the two terms ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’. Mental health is generally a confusing topic as some people see it as a positive, leading a balanced life. A big change is that some workplaces are paying much more attention to work-life balance, as stress can be a major health factor. Whereas mental illness is generally used for long-term serious. It really depends on the individual as to what these two terms mean. Some ‘illnesses’ are more widely accepted in society including, but definitely not limited to depression, anorexia, and suicide.Understanding of mental illness generally comes with age and life experience. Some people have a friend or family member develop a mental illness and it hits home for them and it becomes much more real than reading about it on the television or from a book. Until a person gains this first-hand experience of a person suffering from mental illness they can never truly understand what life is like for a person with a mental illness.Another big issue around this topic is that people who have a mental illness do not like to be treated differently or treated as though there is something ‘wrong’ with them.

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