Mental illnesses do not have a good understanding in our society. TV and other media are partly guilty of this. The truth is that one in every 4 persons will suffer from mental illness in the path of their lifes, and yet, it is something unknown for many.
Although I think that the last years we have been exposed to a more positive idea of mental illness, there is still a little information. Not having enough information about it is the main reason that creates stigma. The influence of the media is huge in both ways. The stigma can be seen in examples like the fear that the society has towards mental ill people, the tendency to make ill people feel guilty about their own sickness or even the denial of the sickness itself when someone close has it.
Imagine now that we would have the same bad attitude to the sicknesses that develop in our bodies. For example, when someone has diabetes, cancer, or asthma. If we would look at them weird, if we would think it is their fault to be sick. Or if we would tell them to just get over themselves and be healthy. Sounds crazy right?
Even if the influence we receive is not the best, we can be positive towards mental issues in general. So, if the moment comes that a loved one has a mental illness and you do not know how to react, here are some hints:
- Get more information of any sickness if it does not ring you a bell. The best thing is to ask the person if you are close enough. Ask them not only what it is but also how it affects them. If they cannot tell you or you can’t ask, the Internet has a lot of information, but be careful of what websites you use. It is always preferable to read a medical magazines than yellow press papers.
- Listen and have a good attitude with family and friends that tell you they have a mental illness.
- Ask what you can do to help, or if they need you in any way. Respect the decision of leaving you out of the issue, if that is what they need.
- Be patient, specially with sicknesses like depression or anxiety, as the rush can make the situation of these people worse.
- Understand that the mental aspect is part of our overall health. As important as taking care of our hearts, or stomachs, it is to take care of our minds. Remember that we would not ask to get out of bed to someone that just had a heart attack.
- If they want you to be part of their therapy process, ask if they want you to share a therapy session. This will be very helpful if you are very close. Cheer them up if you see they are sad and congratulate for the achievements. Don’t forget to push them to continue taking their medicines (in case they are taking any).
- Don’t overreact or be dramatic. Most people with mental illnesses can enjoy having a good quality life. Do not treat them like they are going to die in any moment. With some people humor works really well, but not always. If you are not sure, don’t joke around.
- Mental illnesses affect also the people surrounding them. Do not stop taking care of yourself, take your needs into account and make them visible for this loved one.
Approaching mental illness stigma is a big issue. I will talk about it many times in this blog. However, today I just wanted to give a general idea of what stigma is and how anyone can work to erase it.
I hope you liked this post, you are more than welcome to contact me behind this posts or through the Contact Me section. If you have any doubts or need help, do not hesitate to write me.