Views On Mental Health Are, Finally, Starting To Change

Imagine living with a mental health condition in the Victorian age. Those with mental conditions were not understood and in some societies, were considered to be possessed by demons and evil spirits. Thankfully, our understanding has developed and evolved over the years to the point where mental health issues can be diagnosed and treated. Still, a stigma has been attached to mental conditions for too long. In the nineties, those with a mental health conditions were still unlikely to find work, and it might have been difficult for those suffering from conditions like depression to be in a happy relationship.

You might think that the stigma around mental health still exists today and, to an extent, you would be right. But there are signs that the views on mental health are starting to change. We are becoming more accepting and more welcoming of people with different conditions. Let’s explore some of the evidence of this change and why it’s so important if you have a mental health diagnosis.

Changes In Entertainment Media
You may have noticed a change in how mental health is portrayed and displayed in the media in the past decade. In the past, if a character with a mental health condition appeared in a TV show or film, they would be a quirky side character or a tragic victim. Today, the perception has changed, and that is largely thanks to shows like The Big Bang Theory.

We’ve moved past the mean writing where we laugh at the person with mental health issues and instead laugh with them. Sheldon Cooper is a fascinating, if exaggerated, portrayal of a mental condition. Arguably, he is a character with a stereotypical form of ASD. Though the writers of the show have refused to give him a diagnosis, the character does have many of the traits including difficulty with change, trouble understanding social interactions, and even, less expression on one side of his face. While many have taken issue with the ‘cute autism’ portrayal on display in The Big Bang Theory, it did bring the condition into the public spotlight, even if it wasn’t under that name. It also helped highlight the condition as a spectrum with many people in the audience recognise themselves in characters like Sheldon. This is arguably the first popular portrayal of the condition since Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man.

The Big Bang Theory also paved the way for more portrayals, shows and films and less extreme characters to emerge. It’s not just ASD that is getting attention either. There have been video games that have portrayed characters suffering from depression as heroes and given people with mental health issues some much-needed representation.

Support From Society
It’s true, society has become more welcoming and supportive of people with mental conditions. The best example of this is perhaps the growth of the use of support animals. Studies have shown for years that animals can be beneficial for people suffering from mental health conditions. They improve mood, provide a way for people to remain calm in difficult situations and generally have benefits for general health and wellbeing. It’s only recently however that support animals have been accepted into college lectures, office workplaces and apartment buildings that refuse to allow pets. This was possible due to changes in laws and regulations. As the link here shows 81.5 million people in America suffer from some from emotional or mental condition. Now they can get much-needed support in every aspect of their life.

Support animals have been present in the media as well with celebrities using them to cope with the stresses in their life. Henry Cavill for instance, brought his support dog Kal-El to press interviews and takes him on long-haul flights as well.

There are more equal opportunity employers too. If you have a mental condition and you express this on either your cover letter or your resume, you will, in most cases, receive an interview or interest from the employer. This is to ensure that people with conditions like this are not cast aside, not ignored and do not suffer from the stigma that used to be incredibly prevalent in the workplace.

More people than ever are acknowledging that mental health problems are not something that should be feared or shied away from. In 2014, a poll revealed significant rises in the number of people who would:

  • Continue a relationship with with an individual who has a mental health problem

  • Work with an individual with a mental health issue

  • Live nearby an individual with a mental health problem

  • Live with a person with a mental health problem

An Acceptance Of Mental Health Treatment

It wasn’t that many years ago that going to see a therapist was considering something to be embarrassed about or concerned with. However, many experts now argue that seeing a therapist is a lot like going to see a doctor. Every so often, it’s good to get a check-up, even if there are no signs that there’s something wrong. A therapist can help tackle some of the issues that you may not even be aware of, but that are having a silent impact on your life and your wellbeing.

This attitude does seem to be paying off as over a quarter of Americans now do get therapy every couple of years. This could provide them with the support and help they need to deal with mental health problems.

A Change Of Meaning

Even the words ‘mental health’ used to be linked to negative ideas and connotations. Today that doesn’t seem to be as true. Mental health is often seen in a positive light, linked to concepts such as meditation and mindfulness. More people are treating their mind like a muscle that needs to be exercised, taken care of and utilized to remain healthy. You can read various blogs and watch videos online about the importance of looking after our mental health and not succumbing to the pressures of stress or anxiety. In doing so, we can begin to treat some of the mental health issues that are becoming far more prominent in society today rather than just sweeping them under the rug.


Amanda SheaComment