Why is it that when we hear of a violent crime - people think the perpetrators have Mental illness?
When our sports stars commit a crime or a negative behaviour - we blame mental illness
When we see or hear of mental health facility we think - the people inside are 'locked away' & are insane, nuts, crazy
Many people often hide Mental health & substance abuse problems - substance use disorder problems, because having these illnesses - we are blamed for..
Media can have a hugely positive effect on public perception when it comes to mental illness, We hear many media reports; in particular negative stories around mental health.
I am an individual who battles day in & day out with depression, constant negative & suicidal thoughts on a daily basis & have been quite open about my struggles with Mental Illness - I am someone who lives and breathes a positive lifestyle, helps many people in times of crisis and often described as someone who is inspirational to certain people in times of need. One would say I am a positive person...
Yet a person who struggles with a mental illness is often described, judged & talked about in a negative manner.
We hear words such as STIGMA used when the topic of mental illness comes up, we also should use the word DISCRIMINATION. Not in the terms of race or skin colour, but many brothers & sisters who live and battle their inner demon are discriminated against because of an illness they suffer from. We don't see people discriminated against when they have heart disease, or cancer - because they are physical illnesses, yet we put down, talk negatively & often discriminate against who have mental illness.
In my work in the USA, I have learnt more about the term substance use disorder; or in layman's terms, alcoholic or drug addict.
We discriminate against those who have substance use disorder, or a person who drinks too much or takes drugs - we also lock them up, often with little to no rehabilitation...
Would we ignore, a physical illness, or lock someone away for liver, heart or lung disease??? Definitely not in my experience, so why do we often hide, lie or mislead when it comes to mental illness???
I believe we need to look at how we perceive people with mental illness in the media and as individuals, look at the language we use when talking about or describing mental illness.
I am an individual who is lucky to have caught my addiction and alcohol abuse problems at an earlier than average age, and learnt to keep my mental health demons at bay but I ask you this...
If you answered the door to me asking for help as I wasn't feeling mentally well, and you answer the door to a homeless, alcoholic, drug addict in a bout of depression asking the same problem;
Would you treat us both with the same amount of content, safety & care & what is the difference between the two individuals???
The answer should be is YES you should treat us both the same, the only difference is - I have a home to live in & I know how to manage my mental health, the other doesn't...
The negative perception and care, is the very reason there is STIGMA & DISCRIMINATION attached to living with mental illness.