Mental Illness – It’s time to change our perception


Mental health, like physical health, is a key component of what makes us well. We can think of mental health like we think of physical health, but where physical health refers to our bodies, mental health refers to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Mental health is often thought of as only being applicable to 1 to 15 people who experience mental illness, but that is not the case.  The reality is that 5 in 5 people have mental health. Both our physical and mental health varies along a spectrum. We are just used to talking more about our physical health this way. For example, there are times when issues with our physical health may be less critical and you would treat them with any ailment yourself.

Many people tend to perceive our mental health as something that is black or white; as though we’re either totally healthy or completely unwell at all times. This is not the case! Our mental health lies on a spectrum and how we are felling can fluctuate up and down as we live our lives.

People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill-health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover. Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone’s mental health problems or delays or impedes their getting help and treatment and their recovery.  Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental ill-health, so stigma and discrimination can trap people in a circle of illness. But even though so many people are affected there is a strong social stigma attached to mental ill-health, and people with mental health problems can experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives.

Many people’s problems are worse by the stigma and discrimination they experience from society, but also from families, and friends. This is because in general, they have stereotype views about mental illness and how it affects them.  Many people believe that those with mental illness are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people.

Let embrace people with mental health problems. They are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, niece, and nephews, because with our love and caring, it will help them to recover.

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