Mental Health Awareness Month (April/May) is drawing near. This being the year of 2014, I am not sure that we have come so very far in understanding mental health. Many movie stars lend their voices to the plight of mental illness because they suffer from or have siblings, parents or other family members they want to support in their uphill battle to cope with their illnesses http://gsappweb.rutgers.edu/centers/stigma/people.php. In spite of their endorsements, I believe that mental illness is still perceived by many as a weakness, a personality flaw etc. It is a subject that is whispered about among family members and friends. It is more the subject of something to be made fun of and not something to be taken seriously as an illness. Illnesses must be seen, if they are to be taken seriously i.e. how does one describe depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, many times it is only when a loved one attempts or succeeds at taking their own life, does it appear to their family or friends that loved ones have or have had a significant illness http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/suicide-celebrities-who-took-their-own-lives#slide=1. For example, recently Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott took her own life, to his devastation and to the surprise of many. When it comes to celebrities who have taken their own lives or who have accidentally overdosed, she is in good company. Whereas, one person may be perceived as needing help with drug addiction, it is less obvious that a person may need help with mental health issues.
Therefore, those that are suffering and that are most in the need of help, are the ones who are the most likely to experience isolation, either literally or by the simple fact that most people want to understand but really do not. It is not so much the fault of society that we all whisper about mental illness. Being "crazy" or “insane in the membrane” has been at the end of the butt of many jokes. I have heard tell that people have been called “crazy “for so long, that they answer to that, as much as they answer to their own names. Yet people pretend to be shocked when people take their own lives, or worst choose to take their own lives and the lives of others. Most recently, in the hometown of Columbia, Maryland, a lone gunman took the lives of two young people and that of his own at the Columbia Mall http://www.wbaltv.com/news/police-columbia-mall-shooter-researched-planned-for-year/24935918. Many times I had experienced visiting The Columbia Mall with my young children. Of course, we no longer reside in that city. But I can agree that it is among the last places that anyone would think to experience such a tragedy. It is often only after searching out journals and social media postings etc. that one can perceive what a person suffering from mental illness is really experiencing on a daily basis.
Perhaps, such an illness would be better understood, if we could look at it in terms of chemical changes taking place in the brain. Perhaps, just as one goes for a mammogram or a CAT Scan, we could better appreciate what physical changes are taking place in the brain. Then perhaps loved ones would be less apt to tell the sufferer to “just get over it” or to “snap out of it”. Perhaps people who have been labeled ‘mad” or ‘crazy” would earn the label of sick - in the sense of needing to be healed or needing to be better able to cope. After all, sickness means: the state of being ill
Illness, disease, , ailment, complaint, infection, malady, infirmity, indisposition, etc.
THESE DEFINITIONS SHOULD FACILITATE MANY THINGS, THE LEAST OF WHICH IS LAUGHTER. No one wants to be labeled, bullied or misunderstood. Some people are just trying to make it through "the day to day". You don’t have to understand mental illness but you must know that perhaps, if only once in your life, you may be someone to suffer from it, if only for a period of time. When and if you do, how would you like to be perceived?