Shaheera Khan Contributing Writer
The stigmas that are associated with mental health have been perpetuated since psychological disorders began to be analyzed and evaluated. And this is because mental illnesses are invisible struggles, they aren’t like breaking a leg where one can clearly see something is “broken.” Mental disorders are chemical imbalances in our brains causing disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. The main stigma associated with mental illness is that if you have one of these disorders you are “crazy,” which is a word that gets unfairly thrown around. You are seen as different, sometimes not even acknowledged, and over all, a disgrace. In reality, people battening with their own minds need just as much help and security as someone with a broken leg.
People are extremely afraid to even talk about their mental illnesses because they fear they will face discrimination for it. When people see others with a mental illness, they immediately cast them aside as “different” and “not like us,” which is completely untrue. Many people who live with a mental disorder live completely normal lives, they have families, jobs, and friends just like every other person.
In many minority communities especially, mental illness is severely stigmatized. They are looked at as “crazy,” a disgrace the family, and sometimes are not even taken seriously. This comes from years of not having the support that these communities needed and a fundamental lack of education. Not only have these stigmas been embedded in our everyday lives, they have been embedded in our minds through the use of the media and the people we associate with on a regular basis, people who have negative feelings towards mental illness.
What can we do to diminish this stigma? Well, the reality is that we aren’t going to fix this issue in just a couple of years. It will take time and consistency. This stigma has to be fought on a regular basis by spreading awareness and educating society. We need to actively try to educate others when they make degrading or ignorant comments about people with mental illness, or when they use offensive language. We, as a nation, need to implement into or curriculum a section where mental health and its derogatory stereotypes are talked about, and not just in higher education, but from a young age where kids’ minds are being molded in a positive way.