It is World Mental Health Day and the focus is upon creating more awareness regarding the truths associated with living with mental illness. According to a study conducted by World Health Organization in 2013, 350 million people around the globe suffer from depression. Life presents interesting challenges on all fronts and in many occasions and, on World Mental Health Day, the drive is on to make it easier to talk about these struggles and help the public begin to release misconceptions about the causes and symptoms of mental illness.
Due to past tendencies of avoid talking about the issue, there are many observations regarding mental health that are not quite accurate, particularly when it comes to schizophrenia and bipolar cases. Some of these misconceptions include ideas that people with mental health problems cannot have a regular life, they are unreliable, they can never find a cure, and that mental health problems only affect the mind.
Today wraps up of a week of attention to releasing these negative perceptions and helping people who struggle with mental health issues identify their symptoms and receive help in getting treatment. Mental Illness Awareness Week was instituted by Congress in 1940 and to honor its establishment, organizations around the country have been holding events providing free screenings and educational seminars. Simply by coming together and agreeing to participate in this impactful week, event organizers are providing people with strength and encouragement by letting them know that support is within reach.
The volunteers and individuals who decided to participate in increasing awareness regarding mental health issues are standing as a ray of light and beacon of hope for a better future. By bringing the issue to the forefront of conversation and talking about it openly and without judgement, people are showing that they care and are willing to make a commitment to removing the negative stigma commonly associated with those who have mental health problems.
For those who have never experienced mental illness, understanding the uncontrollable, daily impact it has upon a one’s life may be difficult. If a person has family and friends struggling to cope with the challenges of mental illness, they may often feel as though they do not know how to approach their loved one and even have feelings of helplessness because they do not know what to do to make things better for them. The best thing to do is to simply be aware of the potential need for more compassionate toward people who are dealing with mental illness and to purposefully approach them from the perspective of trying to understand where they are coming from.
There are so many factors involved and a wide spectrum of types of mental health disorders, so having an education on the specific issue the person is dealing with can make it easier to interact with them in a positive, productive manner. Further, communicating with the person, letting them know you sympathize with their situation and informing that they can consider you a source of support can potentially create a sense of stability in their life and how to help them cope in a more effective way.
by Bridgette Bryant
Photo by Mary Lock – Flickr License