Editor, The Messenger,

Mental illness is all around us whether we know it or not. Those with an diagnosed mental illness can be your neighbor, a family member, a friend or even yourself. It affects children, adults, men and women. We live in an society that makes it difficult to live and thrive for people with a mental illness diagnosis because of the stigma that is centered around it. It is looked down upon, criticized, devalued and it’s even dismissed. We live in an society that tells us to just get over it or it’s just an phase even though persons with an mental illness diagnosis lives are crumbling inside and they are afraid to get help. People with mental illness suffer in silence every day because of the way that society judges people with mental illness. We do not judge people for having diabetes, asthma, cancer or glaucoma and we would never tell those with an physical ailment as listed above to just get over it. Why do we do that to people with depression, bipolar or anxiety?

I think that as an society needs to change its views on how it treats people with mental health ailments. We need to change the way that we think about mental illness, how we treat people with mental illness and the way that we talk about it. Education is the foundation of any kind of change. Better education in schools is one way that we can start to help people better understand mental illness. We need to teach people that mental illness can be caused from an chemical imbalance in the brain, traumas or major life events. It is not necessarily someone going through an rough patch in their lives. Teaching people how to recognize when someone may be struggling and then encouraging them to seek help can be the support that someone needs. This can help others feel like they are less alone and that it is not uncommon for individuals to struggle with their mental health issues. No one should ever feel like they are wrong for taking their psych medications or their going to an therapist to improve their mental health issues. Although you don’t see mental health issues on the outside does not mean that it does not exist on the inside. An individual’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. I believe that small changes will eventually lead to an big shift in the way that mental illnesses is looked at in our society

David E. Hartinger

Athens

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