Student Challenges Mental Health Stigmas
By: Cat Hosch
Last year, I read an article online, titled “A List of Excuses I Used For My Depression.” These were excuses the author offered to others in case they were struggling with depression and were unable to explain it to their friends. An example was “I can’t go out today, my aunt is in town,” instead of telling their friend that their depression was weighing them down.
I remember this article, vividly, for two reasons. Initially I was struck by the plausible excuses this author described. Of the twenty or so excuses, most were ones I heard often, like a “terrible stomach sickness,” or “lots of homework.” Someone given these excuses by another struggling with a mental illness would not be aware that there was anything wrong. Secondly, this article described, in great detail, how to specifically fool those who believed in stigmas of mental illness.
As a result, I present a list of my own. Here is a list of stigmas regarding mental illness that make my blood boil.
There is nothing wrong with seeking help if you are struggling with a mental illness. There is nothing wrong for asking for guidance if you see someone else struggling with a mental illness.
“Crazy” is not an appropriate term for someone with a mental illness. Free tickets to an Ellie Goulding concert are “crazy.” Wearing the exact same outfit down to the same color sock as your friend is “crazy.” Good Poptarts are “crazy.” Someone dealing with a mental illness is not “crazy.”
People with depression cannot just “be happy.” It does not work like that. If it did, the world would be a very different place. Thankfully, more and more people understand that depression is in fact a very real illness.
Not all people struggling with schizophrenia see dead people. Not all people dealing with schizophrenia are violent criminals. And under no circumstances is “schizo” an appropriate noun. “Schizo” is like “crazy,” except there is no appropriate use of this term.
Don’t be the person who jokes about a mental illness they don’t have. Refrain from the possible temptation. A lot of people struggle with mental illness. A lot more don’t make it public that they struggle with mental illness. You might not know the personal experiences of everyone around you. Don’t joke about it. Most likely, it’s not that funny.
Receiving treatment for mental illness is not like in the movies. Over the past two decades treatments for mental illnesses have progressed significantly. There are many options out there for getting help. Straight jackets are not one of those options. Horror movies are not accurate depictions of treatment options. Do not use them as such.
This list merely scratches the surface of the many stigmas surrounding mental illness. There are many more I have not listed. I know not everyone believes nor supports these stigmas, and I am thankful that more and more people put a stop to these stigmas every day. I encourage those who think they might need help to seek help. Southwestern has a wonderful Counseling Services filled with kind and caring individuals who are here to help us. For those out there struggling with mental illness, and to those who support them, I support you and am proud of you. I am optimistic, that with time and mindfulness, these stigmas and lists about them will be things of the past.