Ideas about Mental Illness
Updated: Apr 8
When it comes to their mental health, people often feel ashamed, embarrassed, weak, lazy, or think that something is inherently wrong with them when they experience challenges. Some of these ideas come straight from depression itself, because depression can cause people to be highly and unfairly critical of themselves, but mostly they come from stigma within our society. It can even come from self-stigma, whereby people commonly internalize societal beliefs and cruelly apply these to themselves.
The media misportrays people as faulty for having mental illness, it paints an inaccurate picture of what it is like to have it, and it wrongly depicts how people act when they have mental illness. This also takes place by disproportionately highlighting the behaviour of visibly mentally ill people without balancing these images by sharing stories of people’s success over mental illness or people with mental illness who are living and even thriving in their everyday lives.
These ideas are also passed around between people in the language we use every day, where terms like “crazy” and “mental” get used without realizing their potential impact on others. We can understand, therefore, how people come to negative conclusions about themselves and others.
However, the reality of mental health challenges or crises -- that they are legitimate medical conditions and an imbalance of chemicals in the brain -- render harsh judgments problematic and worse. They can bring people down when they're already fighting just to make it through. It can make them afraid of seeking help, or unwilling to do so, when nothing could be more important.
Let it be said: stigma is unkind, unfair, and ill-deserved when applied to ourselves and others. People suffering from depression, anxiety, substance use, suicidality, or the effects of trauma are strong individuals coping with symptoms which are devastating and not their fault. We don’t judge people’s character or ridicule them when they fall and break their arm, develop dementia, or get the flu. Mental health challenges are no different.
Hold your head up high, and seek therapy for help to feel better. You will find support and strategies to turn your life around.