Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Month

I hope those reading had a wonderful holiday weekend with family and friends! 

Today I want to ask you what you would do if you found out a friend or relative was sick.  Perhaps to the point  that he or she could not work. Would you check in on them?  Would you bring food?  Would you offer to help out with daily errands or chores?  Many people are generous and helpful when they learn someone needs help.  When there is a medical problem that makes life challenging - often times others step in and help.  They may fund raise, they may visit, they express concern and people come together to help out.
What happens when the disease is bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression?  Do we rally together and offer our support in the same way?  Why not?
It seems no different - right?
Someone with cancer, MS, injury after an accident....  these things all gain sympathy and assistance.
Mental health is somehow looked at differently.  My question today is why? 
Why is it that people with mental illness feel they have to keep it a secret?  Why don't family and friends rally the same way they would for other types of diseases?
May is mental health awareness month.  I think about people with mental health issues and I know that they are suffering from a disease, just like any other disease - yet we put such a different label on it.  This label stigmatizes them so that many people are afraid or ashamed to admit when they have an issue.  This leads to undiagnosed or undertreated illness.  Sometimes tragedy.
If we want to make a difference in mental health treatment, it needs to start with how we view disease.  We need to be supportive.  Mental illness is exactly that, it is an illness.  People do not ask to be sick, it is not a personal choice.  It is a disease that needs treatment.  People dealing with mental illness need support like anyone else going through a challenging time. 
Next time you hear of someone who is struggling with mental illness, remember that it is a disease like any other.  Show empathy and support your friend, neighbor or family member.  Don't perpetuate the stigma! 

No comments:

Post a Comment