There are certain things that get under my skin. Things that I wish I could change, but I haven’t the power to change them. And while it might seem like a crusade, I’m genuinely concerned about the state of mental health care in this country (the United States).
It’s the unspoken thing that we all try to avoid. No one wants to talk about it. It’s embarrassing, like women’s health. No one wants to admit that they have psychological problems. They’re seen as a weakness, a flaw. Something to be hidden from the world. Except you can’t hide it. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist because it starts to form the very base of our personality. It’s why we have the word “eccentric”.
We like to treat mental health by putting blinders on about the situation. When we have school shootings, everyone wants to know why such a thing could happen. What it doesn’t do is open up a much-needed conversation about psychology. Instead we talk about gun control. When really, both issues go hand in hand.
So, why don’t we talk about mental health? Why can’t we openly admit that the environment we live in has negatively affected us?
Perhaps it’s a stigma. After all, some of the old ways of treating mental were abhorrent. We’ve gone from trephining (drilling holes in the skull) to throwing drugs at it, but largely it’s always the same.
It is so frowned upon to admit to mental issues that we don’t want to hear the truth. Life is hard. Some people have it harder than others. It’s the severity of those hard times that cause a multitude of problems. Instead of treating people with respect and kindness (which is the cornerstone of pretty much every religious belief), we push away.
The only time we seem to be completely OK discussing someone else’s mental health is when it’s a celebrity. For some reason, the only time we feel at liberty to discuss mental health. Doing a quick Google search nets a ridiculous amount of hits from specific celebrities like Chris Brown, David Duchovny, Lindsay Lohan, Michael Douglas… The list goes on and on and on. This is the only time where we find it entirely acceptable to speak about mental illness. Unfortunately, it often falls in to the realm of celebrity gossip instead any real discussion of mental health… as witnessed by the Huffington Post Chris Brown article that I wrote about. An article that did absolutely nothing to forward the conversation and everything to just be gossip.
While I understand that this sort of thing makes celebrities seem more human, it also seeks to minimize what is a very real and painful issue. Something that we often brush under the carpet instead of talking about. Mental health is so frequently minimized and stigmatized that a large population of the homeless community is largely composed of people with mental health issues. It’s become so bad that some of them have been intentionally getting arrested so they can get the help they so desperately need.
When do we decide that mental health is something that we need to discuss and address?