Are you aware that roughly 20% of Americans suffer from a form of mental illness? And did you know just how little anyone is doing about it? Don’t worry; we’re not judging you for not taking to the streets and fighting the good fight, but it takes a lot more than putting on green ribbons to raise awareness, though this is an excellent first step.
Everyone is susceptible to a mental health disorder, so don’t for a second start to think it’s merely an age thing. In fact, the most effective treatment is prevention. The sooner you identify the problem and take preventive measures to stop it from developing, the better off you’ll be. It’s never too late to seek help.
But where do you go to seek help? One common problem among mental illness patients is that they don’t know where to get help. The anxiety attacks you suffer from may feel temporary, and perhaps some good-old exercise will take you out of your pit of despair for the time being, but sooner or later, without seeking treatment, you might wind up back where you started.
Again, we’re not judging anyone for not proactively looking for answers since, after all, the abundance of misinformation and lack of access to treatment may have contributed to the problem. This, in a nutshell, is why we need to take part in raising awareness.
Another contributing factor that prevents people from looking for help is the stigmatization that surrounds it. Unfortunately, the fear of being portrayed as a mentally unstable individual is an obstacle for most people. If you’re getting your mind checked, then there might be something wrong with you. After all, you’re not the only person who works 40-hour weeks and has to be reachable 24/7 by your employers.
Let’s talk about the point of stigmatization in an extreme context. For instance, how would you feel about your daughter being diagnosed with bipolar disorder? How would it make you feel when people in your social circle whisper behind your back that your daughter is “nuts” and needs to be locked up in a mental ward? It’s this exact train of thought—that anyone who needs psychological help belongs in a straightjacket—that we need to get rid of. The social stigma doesn’t just shame the mentally ill but also raises uncomfortable questions about those nearest to them. By raising awareness, we can get rid of this foundationless notion.
One of the more infuriating attitudes toward mental health is that the patient is too lazy to work or study, or they’re just living a lie. There’s also a group of people who think anyone in the mental illness spectrum will lash out in unpredictable ways. Creating awareness about mental health can help dampen these misconceptions and offer patients a new chance at living a more fruitful life. Being judged for something you have no control over isn’t just fair; it’s disgusting.
So, what are the benefits of raising awareness? It could mean better treatment for the mentally ill. If there’s public outcry regarding a lack of mental health facilities or caring about the mentally unfit, then governments can put a greater emphasis on funding mental health research, companies can be forced to provide in-house therapy, and healthcare services can be better equipped to take care of mental health patients.
We’re not asking you to arm yourselves with torches and pitchforks and demanding your city do something about it. But we’re also not recommending just making noise for one or two days of the year. The fight to raise awareness has to be something we take to heart. It can and might have already affected someone close to you. If we can prevent one mental-health-related suicide, then we’ve already won.
To the employers out there reading this, we don’t have to talk about the economic effects of mental health since you can learn all about that here. What you do need to know is that work-related mental health disorders that your company causes will come back to bite you. Mental health awareness has only just begun, and when it blows up, we hope we’re on the same side.
To everyone else out there, just know that awareness is a form of education. The more knowledge you have about the subject matter—identifying symptoms and recommending solutions (traveling, exercising, or practicing Sat Nam yoga, spending your downtime on developing hobbies)—the more attention you can draw without having to march on the streets.
Raising awareness doesn’t just stop at the workplace. If you can, attend health fairs, brush up on the subject when you have time, speak with loved ones regarding what they’re going through and what they think will help them overcome. Join us in taking the first steps to becoming more knowledgeable spreading the information to help not just our loved ones but our communities as a whole.