Why is Our Society in Denial About Mental Illness?
Movies have a specific presentation of what a crazy/mad person looks like and our society's understanding of mental illness begins and ends here.
Why is our society in denial about mental illness?
You will be shocked to know that according to Indian culture, mental illness is the "Divine curse" ' or 'evil spirits.
We now classify it as a mental illness that was seen in the ancient world as the possession of evil spirits, and the most interesting fact is that people used to believe that wearing amulets with magical forces can 'tame' a person and as a result, the person will be cured of mental illness.
In the 18th century, this attitude did change in the West.
European reformers advocated therapy, focusing on the treatment environment, while physicians began to question the mainstream understanding of mental health.
And they argued for the first time that mental illness can be psychological.
It was this approach to treatment that led to the formation of India`s first `asylum` in 1745.
Although some refugees followed more humanitarian treatments, most were still structured to separate psychiatric patients from the rest of society, as they were considered 'dangerous'.
Although there has been a gradual shift towards community care and more compassionate treatments, still the people who don't believe in mental illness criticize institutions for mentally sick people, they do not give them enough agency and reinforce the idea that people with mental illness should be taken away from society to control their disorder.
The stigma in modern medicine is the popularity of some traditional healing practices, which continue to propagate the notion that mental illnesses products of evil spirits. and such beliefs inform perceptions of mental illness.
One study found that 60% of people believe that people with mental illness should have their own groups to avoid contaminating healthy people and 68% believe that mentally sick people should not be given any responsibility.
From movies/web series that mock mental illness to sensationalized news reporting that foregrounds violence, the media further reinforces these negative perceptions towards mentally ill people.
People with mental illnesses are portrayed as violent, murderous, and unpredictable, and are often blamed for their condition.
All this in the media, in our health care system, and in our interpersonal relationships, not only bothers people suffering from severe forms of mental illnesses, but also deprives us of common forms such as depression or anxiety.
But the fact of the matter is 1 out of 10 people has a medical health condition, and 1 out of 20 is depressed.
So, instead of denying that mental illness can affect our loved ones, who have "no good reason" to be depressed, or instead of claiming that "it just a phrase", or "attention-seeking behavior, maybe it's time, we start taking mental illness seriously.
Let's take a hint from mental health advocates and activists, and start talking about mental illnesses in our schools, colleges, homes, and workplaces.
Let us finally recognize the agency and experience of people living with mental illnesses, and work towards ensuring that people seek help, and can access it.
We need to understand that mental illness is not a bad soul, it is a disease. If someone around you is suffering from a mental illness, you should advise them to visit a psychiatrist instead of trying some black magic.
I hope you like the article, please share your thoughts and opinion in the comment section below.
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