There seems to be a sharp divide in thought when it comes to mental illness.
On one side, there are the skeptics.
For them, “mental illness” seems to not be a reality.
Depression? Cheer up. Get over it. Move on.
Bipolar Disorder? You’re just moody. Get a handle on it.
Anxiety disorder? Everyone gets a little stress. It’s not a big deal.
On the other extreme, there are those who demonize the “mentally ill”.
For them, “mental illness” seems to be a nightmare.
Those with mental health conditions SHOULD be stigmatized, because they pose a threat to society.
They are violent. They are untrustworthy. They are crazy.
They belong in prisons and institutions “for their own good”.
The first group refuses to acknowledge that mental health conditions are real.
The second group refuses to acknowledge that the “mentally ill” are people who deserve rights.
To the first group: Mental illness is not made up. The conditions are the result of chemical/biological changes, whether it be neurotransmitter imbalances or brain structural abnormalities. It is not a made up excuse for emotional behavior. It is not a way to seek attention. It is AN ILLNESS that, unfortunately, is not taken seriously by far too many.
To the second group: If 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a mental illness… and IF the “mentally ill” WERE dangerous, violent monsters… well… your terror would be justified. However, the fact is that a significant proportion of our population ARE “mentally ill”, but do not pose a danger to society. While the media loves to fixate on the mentally ill in the context of violence, that is NOT the norm. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims of a violent act… so maybe the media emphasis should shift to how to protect a vulnerable population rather than creating an irrational level of fear and stigmatizing anyone with a mental health condition.
It is not right to belittle someone’s illness…
nor is it right to create an environment which makes fearing the “mentally ill” acceptable…