Why We Need to Speak Up About Our Mental Health

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Have you ever feared to talk about your anxiety, even with those you trust? Has your depression ever made you feel like nobody cares? Does your bipolar disorder make you think you’re getting in the way of other people’s lives?

For everyone experiencing any form of mental health, I believe there’s one common aspect to our mentality which hurts our well-being. That is the concept of keeping quiet.

People have different reasons for not discussing all that goes on in their head. Some feel it will be a nuisance to push these feelings onto someone else. Others find it embarrassing and don’t want it to interfere with their professional and personal lives. And then there are those who’ve been lead to believe no one really cares - that this is a problem of their own and must be handled as such.

Let’s look at mental health as though it were a physical disease. In an example, let’s say I suddenly had a heart attack while shopping at the mall. Though everyone around me may not understand what’s going on, they can at least see that something is wrong.

I’d probably be rushed to the hospital where family and friends would gather for support. My job would understand the disablement of the attack and give me some time off. People would treat me in a very certain way.

Now, let’s say, I was shopping in the very same mall but had a panic attack instead. Unlike a heart attack, people can’t see that something is wrong. It’s all going on in my head. Furthermore, there’s much less of a chance I’d be rushed to any medical supervision. Even if I were to raise my voice about the issue, no one would believe the severity of it.

Therefore, I’d most likely be told something along the lines of, “get over it”. Could you imagine if we had this same response for people who have heart attacks?

The unfortunate truth is, society views mental illness as an indication of weakness rather than a serious disease. People who don’t experience mental health determine it’s all a matter of willpower rather than being uncontrollable. With this stigma, people with mental health are also viewing themselves as weaker individuals.

And I want to be the one to say, this is anything but true.

The problem is, by not speaking up about mental health, we’re individually isolating ourselves from receiving the support and medical attention we need. In terms of the heart attack incident, if I wasn’t rushed to the hospital my physical health would’ve been at great risk. The same thing happens when I have a panic attack. The only difference, my mental health is put at risk.

Being that I’m told to, “get over it,” I begin to think two things:

1. My condition isn’t as serious as it feels to be. 2. People don’t really care and medical attention isn’t necessary.

These are the lies that are undiscussed but spreading like wildfire when we don’t speak up about mental health. And though stigma has a great deal to do with these lies, there’s one more factor to consider.

Talking about mental health makes people uncomfortable. Whether it be for the person with it or the person without.

In the words of Andrew Stewart, “When someone breaks their arm, we rush to sign their cast. When someone is diagnosed with mental illness, we run the other way.”

The only question now is, why do we run? Why don’t we talk more about mental health?

As I see it, it’s just not understood yet. And maybe it’s not understood because we’re not taking the time to have proper discussions in which we can figure it out.

Written by Paul James