Yesterday was not only a start to a new month but the beginning of Mental Health Month. Mental Health Month raises awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States. Many people have a hard time understanding Mental Illness, which can leave a negative perception in their mind. Mental Illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and to function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.
Mostly when people first think about “Mental Illness,” they usually think of what they have seen in the media, which frequently gives a bad perception on how mental patients should act. It’s common to see horror movie villains in television and film portrayed as a mentally disturbed maniacs whose fluctuating moods cause them to commit unspeakable horrors. Similarly, perpetrators of mass shootings and violence are quickly assigned the narrative of suffering from mental illness. Despite these high-profile crimes, studies indicate that people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of violence, than to be violent themselves. Sufferers of mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.
Even though there is some positive light, there is still a stigma out there that needs to be addressed. Stigmas are hurtful and damaging, but we can move past them. Educating the general public is the only way to get to a place of understanding without judgment. The most important lesson people really do need to learn is understanding the illness to widen our perception into a different direction.
Break the stigma and be an advocate for mental health!