Mar 122012
 

Real Relationship Advice

mental illness 300x200 Mental Health

Mental Health is a complicated issue. On the one hand we have the individuals with difficulty assimilating into daily life and then we have society completely misunderstanding mental health and how it affects everyone. First of all, Mental Health refers to everyone and how we react, adjust, accommodate and deal with reality and daily stressors. Some of us demonstrate a good state of mental health while others are overwhelmed by the mildest of stresses. Some of us are predisposed to certain mental illnesses which devastate our mental health while others overcome these disabilities and learn to address life’s daily obstacles in a healthy manner.

The problem that people have when it comes to issues of mental health is the general societal ignorance as to the nature of mental illness. Mental Health is a term we give to the spectrum of mental issues; from healthy to debilitating. We can be symptom free our whole lives and then suffer a deterioration of how we deal with daily life due to a trauma. Most people would think that this is easily dealt with by drinking a few and ‘getting your mind off of it’. For some that could work but for others, professional help is the only way of overcoming this life hurdle.

The difference between that type of mental illness and one that can only be managed in the long term is time. As clinicians, we diagnose a mental illness and label them acute or chronic.  The difference being that a person depressed after the loss of a job or home has a definitive starting date and will eventually overcome this issue. The chronically depressed individual does not usually have a specific triggering event but generally addresses life through the eyes of depression. Both of these people can be helped with talk therapy and medication but ultimately the chronic sufferer will fall back into their depression albeit not as deeply or better equipped to deal with it.

Mental Health is on a spectrum and as we understand and accept this we can begin to embrace the difficulties that individuals with mental illness face on a daily basis. We have stigmatized and separated mentally ill individuals to the point that we generally fear them. We have clumped together all mental illness as people who need to be separated from society either by institutionalization of imprisonment. In reality, people with mental illness are around us every day. They work, go to school, manage their families and are probably sharing a meal with you right now. We can pretend all we want but our ignorance is showing.

Organizations like BringChange2Mind were established to rid our society of the stigmas attached to mental illness. According to SAMHSA, 5% of the population, across the ages, races, and gender, suffer from a severe mental illness (excluding substance abuse and developmental delays). 1 in 6 individuals suffer from a mental illness (not considered debilitating). Mental Illness is color and race blind. More women are diagnosed but that number is usually elevated because men do not seek treatment as often and end up committing suicide or killed due to their violent behavior. As a society we laugh about erratic behavior but are generally unprepared when the erratic behavior occurs within our domains. If 1 in 20 people suffer from a severe mental illness, or 1 in 6 suffer a less debilitating mental illness, then it goes to reason that you know someone who is mentally ill. This is not something that can be ignored or joked about anymore.

Awareness is the first step to gaining some understanding. Acceptance will be the next step for society.

Who do you know with a mental illness? How are they treated by the world?

Lee and Paul

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