What about mental health?

As humans, we take care of ourselves – our hair, our nails, our skin, and when we are down with a fever, we rest. However, what most of us fail to do is to look after of our mental health. Why is this concept so hard for us to wrap around our heads? Well, the simple answer to that would be that we, not only as individuals but as a society, have trivialised and ignored the causes and consequences of mental health disorders.

A good example of the ignorance shown towards mental health disorders would be how most people react to a physical illness versus a mental disorder.

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This comic strip shows how people usually respond to mental health disorders. However, here we see how they use the same responses to physical illnesses. Ludicrous, isn’t it?

One of the reasons most people react in this manner is because a mental health disorder cannot be seen; you may notice that someone is depressed or acting unusual, however, you cannot measure someone’s depression or schizophrenia with a thermometer like you do with a fever.

Another reason that people respond this way is due to their sheer lack of knowledge on mental health disorders. Many parents overlook significant symptoms in their children as they pass it off as “school or workplace stress”, however, there is a difference between a healthy amount of stress and having an anxiety disorder.

The ignorance and trivialisation of mental health disorders should be treated as a serious issue as it contributes to the stigmatisation of these disorders. Examples of unhelpful advice include telling a person with depression to “cheer up and go out with some friends” – if it were that easy, the 300 million individuals who suffer from depression, globally, would probably not have depression.

The romanticisation of mental health disorders, in popular media, is another major contributor to the trivialization of mental health. Unfortunately, many people believe that having depression or anorexia is desirable because it’s “cute.”

Imagine this: a young person, who suffers from depression, logging onto social media to see posts glorifying mental health disorders and suicide and make them seem like an envious state of being – they start to believe that this is a valid solution to their problems, instead of seeking actual help.

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It is quite common for people to say things like “I’m so OCD” or “She’s bipolar” and what they don’t realise is that they are using actual disorders to describe themselves or somebody else as if it is some label. These are mental health disorders that hinder people’s everyday lives, leaving many of them feeling helpless because of how their illness is made to seem almost attractive.

It’s about time we realise that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. Not just that, if someone, whether that’s your sibling, a friend, or an acquaintance, comes to you seeking advice, try not to tell them that “life’s hard.” It takes an immense amount of courage to speak to someone about an issue that is made fun of by an alarming number of people. Encourage them to see a therapist; it’s not as daunting or embarrassing as people make it seem.

Want to know more about mental health? Visit these websites:
http://www.who.int/en/
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
Some apps that are great in helping maintain mindfulness and mental health:
https://www.headspace.com/
https://www.calm.com/
http://www.simplehabit.com/

By Harshita Shriyan

Head of Design

The Order of Equality

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