Mental health in America is a touchy subject as there is a social stigma attached to seeking help when help is needed.
Mental illness is perceived as weakness, but in truth the mind is as important as the body in terms of maintenance and care.
No one feels ashamed to get an annual physical, though many of the procedures during a physical are invasive (think pap smear and prostate exams).
Most people don’t think twice to see the doctor for physical illnesses or diseases, but will put off seeing a professional when there are mental or emotional issues that need to be addressed.
As a result we have countless people committing suicide, infanticide, self-medicating, and hiding their growing problems from as many people as they can.
For every case I hear about involving a mother killing her children my heart breaks, and not just for the children who are hurt but for the mother who is also clearly hurting or broken inside.
We live in a society that admonishes everyone who is experiencing emotional difficulties and mental illnesses.
This same society spent countless years sending everyone with the slightest hint of emotional or mental difficulties into sanitariums and institutions.
The policy of the 20th century was to lock them all away; out of sight means out of mind and if we didn’t have to think about them, we didn’t have to figure out ways of dealing with them.
Society has since attempted reparations by closing the institutions and opening group homes for those who can no longer be taken care of by their families.
Medications have been developed, administered, recalled, and reformulated in order to “normalize” those who are experiencing difficulties.
There is still an unspoken barrier preventing everyone from considering their mental health as crucial as their physical health. Medications target the symptoms but never really address the actual problems.
Fear of gossip prevents many from wanting their vehicle to be seen at the local mental health center. Fear of repercussion prevents some from confiding in the proper authorities (counselor, priest, Rabbi), meaning that many deep rooted issues go untreated and ignored.
Not many people wish to be thought of as crazy. Here is the secret though: We are all crazy, in a way. There are ways to deal with it, and often the simplest answer works the best: Acceptance. Once we all can accept that each of us struggles in some way, then we can work toward a unified effort of providing tools to each other that help us function the best we can.
Acceptance can help to end the stigma behind seeking help when help is needed, and recognizing that so many can be functional despite challenges and difficulties. It’s important to remember that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. You can always connect with the mental health professionals at BetterHelp to strengthen your mental health.