In the fast-moving world of the 21st century, mental illness continues to be a stigma not talked about enough. The word itself is a taboo in communities around the world and few are comfortable indulging in an open discussion about it.
People with mental illnesses are scared to talk about it because their illness isolates them from the society they live in. They are not ready to face these issues because they have been raised to believe that one should be ashamed if they suffer from any kind of mental health issue. And that is where the problem lies. While our knowledge about these illnesses has evolved considerably over the last century, our attitudes towards them are still similar to that of an ignorant person.
Most mental illness victims do not know that they are victims due to never having consulted a professional about it. Despite having one of the highest reported cases of mental illness worldwide, India hardly has the the resources in place to deal with the problem.
Going to therapy, for one, is considered an act of shame by many. Society automatically assumes that one is not fit to be a part of society if he or she needs therapy. They refuse to understand the importance of sharing and talking about these things because they are simply afraid and ashamed of it.
The lack of understanding does not extend only to mental health victims.
Many Indians do not understand the importance, nor respect the job of a psychologist. The profession of psychologists and counselors is not sought after. No one wants to be associated with a mentally sick person; they are ashamed to be seen with one.
At some point or another, most people go through mental health issues, even if only minor. Yet, only a few choose to disclose it because they fear prejudiced thoughts shadowing them for the rest of their lives.
Another problem faced by the world is treating people with mental illness differently. Recently, the University of Toronto came out with a new policy that outlines the fact that people with mental illness can be harmful to themselves or others can be excused from school. Is that a good enough reason for people to compromise their lives? Keeping students away from their peers and making them live a complicated life and further worsen their condition?
This life of isolation will do them no good, whereas talking about these issues and trying to resolve them through treatment and therapy will be more beneficial. If the students are forced out of schools and colleges to “get better,” then they will start losing confidence in these organisations and will not disclose their conditions, which will prevent them from getting help, and further worsen their condition. It’s a never-ending cycle.
But there is always a silver lining, right? An article by the Hindu says that there are more people coming forward and opening up long overdue conversations about the issue. From world leaders to celebrities, many influential people have started these conversations about mental health, bringing it to the attention of many. And that is exactly what is needed to end its stigmatization.