“Mental Health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”
The topic of mental illness has been discussed more often in recent years. It is a progressive step taken by society as a whole as it is a much-needed talk. However, there has also been widespread misinformation about mental disorders that are detrimental to the progress that we are making. Nowadays, suffering from a mental disorder is seen as trendy and, this is unacceptable because mental disorders are not something to joke about.
Trivialisation is a behaviour where an illness is portrayed as being easier to suffer or treat. It often comes along with stigma and has consequences such as stereotypes formed in the minds of people. These negative stereotypes are further perpetuated by the media and lack of education. Trivialization occurs when people self-diagnose without enough knowledge about the illness. For example, when people who have a personal preference for keeping their surroundings clean and tidy say, “I’m OCD about arranging everything around me”. This behaviour devalues the experience of people suffering from a mental health condition which controls their life.
Media feeds us with information about how other groups of people act, even though we as consumers have never interacted with these groups. However, people fail to understand that mental illness is a complex subject with a spectrum of associated behaviours. In media, we often see people who suffer from OCD shown as obsessed with perfectionism and cleanliness. When it’s a person suffering from depression, they are often portrayed as being lazy and suicidal. These portrayals of mental illness we consume in media put ideas in our head about how we expect someone who suffers from a mental illness to behave.
Whenever someone has to give a speech or give an interview, we often hear them say they have “anxiety”. An anxiety disorder is a mental disorder that a person suffers from regularly. But, it is so commonly thrown around, which makes a person suffering from it feel like it’s not a big deal. Instead of saying that someone is sad or upset on a particular day, they find it necessary to say that they are “depressed” which devalues the struggles that people with depression go through. It makes people with a mental illness feel like the severity of their condition is minimised. Their symptoms of an illness are not taken as seriously as they should be, which is harmful to their health.
A solution to this is more education and awareness about mental illnesses. An increased understanding of mental health will prevent these stereotypes from being our only sources of information on how an illness is supposed to look. Having a mental illness is nothing to joke about and, this constant trivialisation seen in society needs to stop. Mental health has to be discussed more frequently as it is an important topic. Accurate knowledge should be taught and those who need help should go to professionals.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candour, more unashamed conversation”