It’s Mental Health Awareness month, which is a very important month. I love discussing mental health almost as much as I love self care for mental health. There are a few things I really think need to be addressed into today’s society, so I hope I can effectively touch on those topics.
For starters, if you’ve never suffered with a mental illness, and you’re not in a field in which you have knowledge on mental illness.. please, understand that requests made that you *might* not understand still deserve respect. If someone tells you there is a topic that is triggering to them, or uncomfortable, please try your best to avoid it. Bringing up certain things, visiting certain areas, and so on can be very triggering for someone with a mental illness or someone who is recovering. Just because you have one friend who can handle a topic, it doesn’t mean another person recovering from the same illness will feel or react the same.
There are boundaries, and they need to be taken seriously. When issues, events, topics, and beyond are not respected you can very easily lead someone to relapse, or things much worse. Relapse for a recovering addict can result in death. Intentional or not.
Ensuring the safety of your friends, family members, and local community members is detrimental.
Mental Illness is not a choice, it’s not due to lack of motivation, it’s not laziness, it’s not selfishness. Mental Illness can absolutely emulate thoughts, and behaviors that can make you lose motivation, make you sad, angry, sick, and feel completely alone. These are not choices people make. Mental illness is generally a chemical imbalance in your brain, or a wiring that isn’t the same to someone who doesn’t struggle with mental disorder.
It’s said that only 1 in 8 people get treatment for mental illness.
8 out of 10 people with a disorder will be subjected to discrimination.
People with mental illnesses are not violent, they are more likely to be subjected to violence.
Personality Disorders are not even close to what the general misinformation there is about them. People with personality disorders are not going to hurt you, they’re not psycho.
Bipolar Disorder is not an adjective for your occasional mood swings. This is a disorder that effects millions.
Anxiety is not being awkward, and nervous for a test once a year. It’s extreme fear, feeling like you are dying, breathing and heart issues, it’s a sickness that hits you very frequently.
People who suffer with schizophrenia are not dangerous, they are more likely to receive discrimination, and violence. Schizophrenia has been used in films, usually showing negative, and untrue stereotypes, thus contributing to misinformation.
Eating Disorders are not selfish. They often involve several methods, and can be very dangerous. They are not glamorous.
Self Harm is not attention seeking, it is a method preformed for self punishment, or a method comparable to drinking or using. Chemicals are released when self harm is preformed, and can be just as addictive as alcohol and nicotine.
OCD is like a spectrum including lots of different types of compulsive conditions. Having OCD doesn’t always mean obsessive cleaning. OCD isn’t your one time organization day. OCD can lead to very disturbing thoughts, and processes harmful to said person suffering. It can be life consuming, and very difficult to deal with.
Mental Illness is not yours to take to be relatable, mental illness is not glamorous, mental illness isn’t your movie part, mental illness is not pretty. Mental disorders can have positive attributes, too.
Here are the facts:
- One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue.
- One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression.
- One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
- Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.
Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.
Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.
Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.
Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:
- Higher overall productivity
- Better educational outcomes
- Lower crime rates
- Stronger economies
- Lower health care costs
- Improved quality of life
- Increased lifespan
- Improved family life
For some of you, Mental Health Awareness is a month you see posts, for those of you not suffering with a mental disorder, you get to forget about it. We don’t.
The importance of trigger warnings, Credit to Time Magazine:
Safe spaces and trigger warnings can help support victims of assault, PTSD and violence. Organizations like Slut Walk and Take Back The Night have made great strides in ending stigma for sexual assault survivors and have called for increasing trigger warnings for sensitive content.
A lack of safe spaces can also compound the mental toll of racism, even subtle racism. Past experience with bullying plays a role here: Of the 160,000 children bullied every day, 31% are multiracial, according to Clemson University’s “Status of Bullying in School” 2013 report. Racial bullying often goes unnoticed or unreported due to how teachers perceive interethnic relationships. Psychologist Morris Rosenberg found that African-Americans showed surprisingly high rates of self-esteem when they compared themselves with other African-Americans, but when they compared themselves to white peers, self-esteem levels dropped. Safe spaces can help minorities feel empowered to speak up.
Along with this, it’s important to note that: “trigger warnings” and “safe places” today, as it’s become seemingly more of an insult and joke instead of it’s actual intended use. This is going to be pretty long, so stick with me if you can. Trigger Warnings were designed and created with therapists, and doctors to accommodate to those suffering with PTSD, those who are more susceptible mental issues and various panic/anxiety disorders. Creating a stable environment for communication, and boundaries for those who are not emotionally equipped for certain reminders. It then was used for people with drug addictions, eating disorders, self harm, and so forth. Not wanting to aggravate or “trigger” any emotional disturbances. Now, this was 100% harmless, as it made more of a calm environment for doctors, friends, veterans, victims of abuse, and families to communicate. Safe places were created for those alike to feel comfortable and safe in an environment to evade abuse, relapse, panic/anxiety attacks. These were created in hopes for safety, and wellness for people who needed it. A trigger for someone can be anything ranging from the sound of fireworks, movies, “jokes” etc.
Which, now, has become a popular “meme” to describe people discussing their political opinions, activism, showing signs of emotional distress, and the list continues. This has now made it difficult for those who once tried to create and draw boundaries to avoid relapse, panic, and depressive episodes. The common debate is it’s validity, and those who cannot understand the intent for trigger warnings, and safe spaces. While many modes of treatment for mental health issues encourage patients to face their traumas instead of avoiding them, classrooms are not therapist’s offices and professors aren’t mental health professionals. This kind of work requires a controlled and private environment outlined by the practicing clinician. Social media account users have now taken the steps to use it to degrade, and belittle others. They have received astronomical amounts of push back, and those who utilized these tools now feel even more uncomfortable than ever. Most ever human has been in situations we don’t feel comfortable talking about, and even some have been in situations that feel unsafe. With the high numbers of women, and men who have endured both physical and emotional trauma, we’ve now taken away something that was once intended for good purpose.
So, I hope with a little bit of clarification, we can work together to be more aware of those around us. While trying to be respectful to pain, and trauma a lot of our communities have endured.
So, how can you help?
Your role within the mental health community is pretty simple. Show your support! If you suffer from a mental disorder, or if you don’t – support is always helpful. Work on combating the stigma, normalizing treatment is an absolute must! Treat your friends, and families just as you would anyone else. Respect their boundaries, and be there as much as you can, if they need you! A crisis can happen, and showing your love for someone can really help.
Listen to your pals when they talk about their disorders, or symptoms. Don’t change the subject. Resist the temptation to ignore, disregard, and invalidate the illness. This is not a competition. This isn’t the time to tell them how much worse you’ve had it. Relating to them can help, but don’t overshadow them. Reassure them that you are there. Security is always nice to have. The only exception to this is when your friend, or family member is suicidal. Suicide needs to be reported to a medical professional. Educating yourself is also insanely helpful.
You are not obligated to be a therapist, or take care of someone. Especially when you are not in a position yourself to do so. However, listening and being there for people in need can really be helpful. Letting people know that they are loved is so important, even for those who aren’t struggling with a mental illness. Encouraging them to seek out help, and not ostracizing them for it is key.
If someone you know needs emergency/crisis situation, please seek help.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255