Saturday, December 15, 2012

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Health

I have been thinking about writing about the topic of mental health for the past few weeks.  Well actually maybe it has been on my mind for the past few years, but the issue was something that I have been wanting to address on here for awhile.

This country has seen several gun-related incidents recently.  First the the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide, the shooting in Oregon, and today's shooting in Connecticut.  People are so quick to talk about gun control.  Some one to use that same played out phrase "Guns don't kill people, People kill people."  But with all of the gun rhetoric we are missing a bigger more dangerous point.  There is still a massive stigma around mental health, and this stigma is now proving to be more deadly than ever.

People with mental health issues have always been looked down upon in this country.  Someone is treated as less than a person if they see a therapist and if they have to take medicine it is as if they have the plague.  But why is there stigma in place?  According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year (www.nami.org).  I am sure that you have a friend, a family member, or even a co-worker who you know seems like they could use some professional help.  Yet we continually pass these people by and say nothing.  If someone has a heart condition we tell them to go to the doctor right? Why should a mental health issue be any less then going to the doctor for your physical health?

The truth is, many times physical problems can be manifestations of mental health issues.  Have you ever been super stressed and then end up with a cold?  Or maybe when you are feeling sad you suddenly feel more fatigue?  The body and the mind work in tandem.  You must keep most in check in order to be the best you.

The time must stop where we are scared to go to the psychologist or the psychiatrist. The more that we have  open and honest discussions about mental health, and the more it is acceptable to seek mental health treatment we will see less of the massacres and suicides that are plaguing are nation.

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