Stop Being Ignorant About Mental Illness
All it takes is a simple how’s your day to make someone happy, so why not do it?
By Kaetlyn Collier, Odyssey
Mental illnesses are serious, in my opinion. In health class, they even teach you to keep a healthy balance of your mind, soul, and body. Where are we now in this world? We have the older generation where half of them don’t even believe mental illness is a thing, and the other half thinks it’s the plague. What I really want to focus on is what the younger generation feels on the topic.
First of all, stop romanticizing mental illness. It is not cute when a girl’s social anxiety gets in the way of ordering what they want a restaurant. Mental illness is the leading cause of suicide. In fact, the majority of the people who commit suicide had an undiagnosed mental illness. If you want to really make the person feel special, reach out a helping hand instead of handing out deadly compliments. Encouraging the illness makes the individual feel more comfortable in it and they find a way to hide it instead of trying to get help.
Stop calling people with a mental illness insane. Having depression doesn’t make you insane, having anxiety doesn’t make you insane, and have schizophrenia doesn’t. Going on a mass murder spree makes you insane, see the difference? Calling them insane will eventually drive them to insanity. When someone has a cold you don’t automatically call them sick because in today’s day and age we get over illnesses. Now, not saying you can cure schizophrenia because technically there is none, but treatment is definitely an option.
Mental illnesses are not picky, they affect both males and females. For some reason, it is more socially acceptable for Susan to have depression and Tommy can’t. Society expects guys to “man-up.” Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and can be balanced out by various things such as medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and at least ten different more kinds of therapy. Instead of being the wing man for a girl Tommy is interested in, try being the wing man to his mental health. Helping with that could potentially help Tommy gain confidence and approach the girl himself.
Stop using depressed as an adjective to describe someone else. Mental illnesses are not adjectives, so don’t use them like one. Telling someone that they look anorexic is not only offensive to the person you’re speaking to, but also to everyone who has anorexia. Calling people names doesn’t have a positive influence on anyone, so why do it? I can be guilty of doing this sometimes, I’ll admit it, but I really am trying to stop because it definitely is not okay. We use these words in everyday speech and don’t even realize how rude it actually is, and maybe you’re having the realization now, which is good. Instead of saying that someone is acting bipolar, ask about their day. There are plenty of alternatives that are more kind when approaching a sensitive topic. Simply asking how their day was could leave a lasting impression on them!
It is important to recognize that there is more to mental illnesses than just anxiety and depression. There are eating disorders, ADHD, Dissociative identity disorder, kleptomania, autism, and hundreds more. Being able to identify subtle hints to some of these could help out another person tremendously. I fully encourage everyone to observe actions, like when someone constantly messes with their hair. This could mean they’re anxious, nervous or maybe they have ADHD and need to do something with their hands. A simple look could create a better understanding.