Breaking the Stigma Concerning
Mental Health Disorders
By Gaby Alexander
You might find posts galore on social media, especially on World Mental Health Day, trying to preach the importance of raising awareness and breaking the stigma regarding mental health disorders. However, in all honesty, World Mental Health Awareness Day is not just about one particular day. It does not do to show concern for one particular day and then turn a blind eye to the person suffering right next to you. Every day must be used to educate people about how suffering from a mental health disorder does not qualify as an act of shame. But the way society treats the victim as an abject definitely is shameful. The thing is, there is probably no way to know what goes on in someone’s life, not unless the person trusts you enough to spill the dirt.
Therefore, all we can do is be a little sensitive and empathetic. People have loads of stories to tell and perhaps traumas to share. These bottled up emotions in the absence of a patient can fester and leave scars on the mind. And like the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud once stated that repressed emotions have nowhere to escape. Sooner or later, they are going to manifest themselves in uglier forms.
How Do We Spot The Signs?
More often than not, mental health disorders could be difficult for you to spot. This is so because the wounds are not physical. They lie beneath the skin and mess up with the way our brain functions. However, if you fail to spot the signs, the disorder might go untreated and claim lives. Also, untreated mental health disorders make permanent changes in the brain.
It is not for nothing that this has become such a raging issue today. The seriousness of a mental disorder is as intense as any other physical ailment. But certain unenlightened minds fail to acknowledge this fact. But, there are ways to spot the danger signs and take appropriate measures when you see someone suffering from a probable psychosis or neurosis. Without any further delay, we shall look into the signs now.
- Withdrawal Symptoms - If you find the individual concerned withdrawing from family, friends or their immediate social circle, know that there is a probability of the individual suffering from some kind of a mental health disorder.
- Suicidal Thoughts or Ideation - One of the biggest signs that we often tend to miss and brush aside as a mere joke is the mention of probable suicide. The moment you find someone contemplating or even mentioning suicide, understand that the thought might have taken root inside the person’s head. No one mentions suicide as a plain joke. Therefore, take that as a hint and offer help and crisis resources to the person.
- Poor Performance in Office or School - A steady drop in the grades or poor performance in the office space are danger signs and must not be taken lightly. However, that does not mean that you must allow people to take undue advantage of the situation under the garb of mental illness and then allow them the freedom of poor behaviour. It only means that these could indicate a mental health crisis that needs to be treated.
- Excessive Eating or Inability to Keep Food Down - Any abnormal change in food habits could be signs of a latent mental health disorder. Loss of appetite or excessive eating are signs of acute clinical depression and needs immediate medical intervention.
- Loss of Interest in Daily Activities - You might want to pay a tad extra attention to the individual concerned here if you notice a visible loss of interest in the individual’s daily activities. Sleeping all day or not sleeping at all, and staying up worrying about things are immediate symptoms of a mental ailment.
What Can Be Done?
The stigma concerning mental health is too intense. Therefore, the very first thing that you, as a responsible and caring individual, must do is try to enlighten more people and educate them on the various facets of mental health. Only then can people suffering in silence and society at large can extend help and reach out more often.
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To all those who might be reading this article and struggling with a mental health disorder, know that this too shall pass. All you need to do is reach out to people and seek medical help. Your mind is an important place. You live more inside your head than within the society. Therefore, you must take care of your mind as much as you tend to your health. Now, for those who might have a friend or an acquaintance struggling with such a phase, let them know that you are there for them. Let them know that with the right treatment, every mental health disorder can be cured. Finally, it is important to understand that you are bigger than your mental health disorder. Therefore, do not let it ruin the life that lies ahead of you.
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