The Falconer

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Removing the stigma from mental illness

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Although mental health treatment has drastically improved throughout the years, many people still view those with mental illness in a negative light.

Mentally ill people tend to be stereotyped as dangerous and violent, which is only worsened by the media’s portrayal of them. News reports, movies and television series frequently depict people with mental illnesses as evil, threatening or incapable of living normal lives.

Another stigma surrounding mental health is the idea that people with these conditions are simply making it up. In actuality, mental illnesses are caused by a mixture of psychological, environmental and biological factors. Mental illnesses can result from psychological causes such as childhood trauma and neglect or environmental aspects like major life changes, dysfunctional family situations and social expectations. Biologically, they can run in families, be the outcome of prenatal damage or develop from a lack of proper nutrition.

Due to the stigma around illnesses like depression, anxiety and personality disorders, these conditions are often overlooked in favor of prioritizing physical health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, roughly one in five teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 experience a severe mental disorder. Despite this, these problems remain a taboo subject addressed nowhere near frequently enough.

While many schools conduct mandatory eyesight and hearing tests, students don’t even have the option to be screened for mental health, leaving them to pursue treatment from outside sources. This situation is harmful because many people decide not to seek assistance due to shame and embarrassment or the inability to locate quality treatment. Psychology Today reports that untreated mental health issues lead to an increased risk of physical problems like heart attacks and strokes, homelessness and suicide. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for people aged 15 to 44.

When it comes down to it, the only way to truly know what it’s like to have a mental illness is to experience it first-hand. However, it is important for everyone to acknowledge the reality of these issues and do their best to be an ally.    

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