You’ve most likely seen a lot about mental health. Whether is be support or stigmas, the discussion is ongoing. It’s something that can ruthlessly impact the lives of anyone in a variety of ways.
Let’s start by addressing no mental illness is textbook standard. Not everyone has the mental capacity to do yoga or meditate. In some cases, this can agitate people more than help.
Feeling like the world is imploding around you is personal. From your perspective, the day can be perfect but from your friends it can be hellish. There are things you won’t understand even if you suffer from the same illness because not all triggers are the same.
But often, signs of mental illness can be misunderstood.
Depression is more than being on a down day. To generalise it as just being sad is generously ignorant. Yet, it’s forever used as an entertainment trope. Real people are impacted by it and it can steal years of their lives. If you’re lucky, then you won’t ever have to experience it.
Yet, people want to.
Because mental illness has been glamourised as something ‘edgy’. The media has re-branded mental illness to make it sexy. Often disregarding the very real difficulties faced by people suffering from mental illness by glossing it over with gorgeous actors and unrealistic scenarios.
All it does is add to the stigma surrounding mental illness. Suddenly, those who suffer are attention seekers with no real issues. Because people are so familiar with what they see on the surface, they disregard inner issues.
Face value is all that matters. If you smile, you’re happy. Everyone has control over their emotions, if I do then you should too!
Except we are not all the same. People need to recognise circumstances and experiences. That sometimes a mental illness is not formed from something traumatic. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming stress and pressure that can develop these illnesses.
Someone can have the perfect life on the outside and be crumbling on the inside. This modern depiction that mental illness is a personality trait needs to be addressed. Especially because it’s regarded now more than ever as an ‘act’.
It should be acknowledged that people with mental illnesses view the world differently. Society has been enticed by music and entertainment to see the beauty of it. That to suffer from it is a stamp of honour, rather than it having a very damaging impact on lives.
Young people, however, are the most often stigmatised. Students are targeted as being dramatic for getting treatment for their well-being. Yet, according to Randstand, at least 37% of UK students state that their wellbeing has declined since beginning higher education.
A further 64% of respondents say their studies and university lifestyle has negatively impacted their wellbeing. British universities need to address their students wellbeing more consistently. Over the years, there’s been a surge in students experiencing anxiety and having breakdowns.
This is a very real and growing health concern.
In 2019, the Guardian reported that UK students polls showed a significant rise in psychological distress and illness. Counting to numbers almost reaching 38,000 UK students in universities. These are issues that need to be faced, not challenged.
The taboo argument of whether mental illness is real is outdated. Instead of rolling your eyes at whether you think someone is being ridiculous, speak to them. Having mental health problems doesn’t make someone a bad person, it just means more support is needed.
Especially in the case of highly stigmatised illnesses such as suicidal ideation. We need to actively support diagnoses with negative associations. Such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and mania. All of which can impact people’s lives in an in disruptive manners but are frowned upon because of typical stereotypes.
Mostly because they are portrayed in a violent frame for entertainment. Otherwise, illnesses like so are used as crutches to make characters more interesting.
However, mental illness cannot be worn as an accessory. People with mental illness shouldn’t be expected to behave in a certain way. People who have been diagnosed often don’t show it as obviously as fictional characters because they’re not real.
Life is not as dramatised as scripted television shows; no one should have to prove they’re mentally ill. Some people are high functioning, but that doesn’t mean their life is any easier.
No matter where you are in life; you face difficulties. You don’t need to be middle-aged to have a hard time. There’s so much pressure put on this generation to succeed, that it’s bound to be a risk to people’s mental wellbeing.
Not everyone can be fixed by love or a good day. Those are scripted films made to entertain. Yes, in some places there are very real depictions of mental illness. However, it’s very important to acknowledge there are very real people in your life; be patient with them.
And be patient with yourself. Don’t feel bad for seeking help because you need it. Be honest with yourself about what you need. Your mental health is one of the most important things in the world. By no means should anyone be made to feel like they’re not relevant because of it.
I know getting help is easier said than done, but see below for support recommendations:
Featured image credit: CalmClinic.com
Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.