Mental Health

English 101
17 November 2019
Mental Health Awareness
It’s daylight. You’re surrounded with friends and you’re out in the sun, but something
isn’t right. You feel different. There is this feeling, a very unpleasant feeling in your head,
“butterflies” in your stomach. You want to leave and go to a place that is quiet and dark. You are
being drained; drained by your own thoughts, so dark and so dreadful, you are terrified. It’s
wrecking you from the inside out. It’s like having two different people inside of your head. You
have anxiety that makes you panic about the smallest things… Mental illness is a serious disease
that affects many people and is initially symptomatic inside the mind of the individual. It is
associated with the abnormalities of neurotransmitters in the brain, and influenced by genetics,
childhood experiences, social groups, culture, and life experiences. These abnormalities lead to
such symptoms of mental illness as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders,
addiction behaviors – all of which affect relationships with family, friends, partners, spouses, and
coworkers. All communities in our society are affected by mental illness. Mental illness is
documented as early as pre-school and is prevalent through all stages of early academic life. Not
only is mental illness a difficulty for many sufferers, but how society perceives the individual
with mental health issues compounds the challenges of mental illness.
Throughout the history, mental illness serves a distorted image in 18th century in the
United States leading to stigmatization of mentally ill individuals and often degrading
imprisonment of mentally ill individuals. According to historical records by Cicero and Plutarch,
“the mentally ill were often kept in dark cells and dungeons prior to the Christian era in Western
Europe.” (Koenig & Larson, 2001). It was believed that mental illness was a form of religious
punishment or demon possession. When a person has a severe mental ill and were untreatable by
exorcism, religious leaders decides to execute them by burning them or cutting off their head.
The history of mental illness in the United States is a good representation of how we understand
the culture of mental health today. Today, the National Alliance on Mental Health states, “1 in
6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.” In other words, there are
more people affected by mental illness now than there ever has been, and something needs to be
done about it specifically in school systems. Mental illness is an internal, personal trauma that
often brings external social stigma, and challenges. People who have mental illness encounter
not just internal personal trauma, but external (social) stigma that can raise great challenges for
obtaining social support, housing, employment, and treatment. These negative external factors
often make the illness worse, or at least harder to treat. Providing a positive social environment is
critical to treating the personal trauma of mental illness.
An individual suffering from a mental illness experience in public and self-stigma while
family members and other associates experience family stigma. Public stigma happens when a
member of a community validates stereotypes and show discrimination behaviors such as not
hiring someone because of their mental health issues. The impact of self-stigma lowers the selfesteem of an individual with mental illness which then results to broken family relationships, and
affects negatively with social life, buying a house, and become employed. According to the
Priory Group, “A survey showed that more than 80% of patients agreed that their mental health
conditions had a detrimental effect on their family.” Family stigma includes the stereotypes of
shame, blame, and foulness. The public attitudes which blame parents or family members for bad
parenting skills and low family support. Generally, the blame is shed to children, children are
often too young to fully comprehend the harming consequences of mental illness and find it
complicated to understand why their parent isn’t well. This results the child to blame themselves
and grow up feeling different, isolated, and lonely which this may lead to develop mental and
behavioral problems of their own. Family members may experience shame for being blamed for
the mental illness. This shame may lead the family life become unsettled and erratic as the need
of the ill to be supremely mundane with care in every circumstance. In addition, family members
may avoid social interactions, spend energy on hiding the occurrence of psychological problems.
They may feel nervous about inviting people to come over at their home and find it difficult to
share to people about their own problem or relative’s problems.
Individuals living with mental illness live with their families and rely on them for both
economic support and everyday care. Families are often unable to work at their full potential
because of the thought of taking care for mentally ill person which results to unstable finance.
The challenges of mental health issues are certainty harsh, how much more if an individual is
living in poverty. According to the Recovery Village, “The report indicated that 9.8 million
adults in the United States had a serious mental illness in 2015. Nearly 25 percent of these
individuals were living below the poverty line…they often in poverty with decreased
productivity, higher health care costs and poor overall health. All these effects results in an
increase chances of experiencing homelessness.” Living below the poverty line while suffering
from mental health issues creates serious challenges. The lack of financial resources to maintain
the basic needs of living, having less job opportunities and education are exposed to poor living
environment and are less able to access good quality health care. People with mental illness are
unable to pay for the treatment that they need. In other cases, a big amount of money is spent on
ineffective mental health care which means that people not only end up with no money but also
fail to get better. All these factors keep adding unfortunate condition of living and continue the
negative cycle between poverty and mental illness.
Mental illness may interfere a student’s ability to reach his or her potential. According to
the Mental Health First Aid by Hoffman, “About three million teens aged 12 – 17 in the U.S. had
at least one major depressive episode in the previous year and only 40% of students with EBD
graduate from high school, compared to the national average of 76%...” Many educators are
exposed to stress on a daily basis. This affect their quality of life, academic achievement,
physical health, and discouragement with college concerns, and adversely impacting
relationships with friends and families. The stress can be positive but can also be negative and
lead to harm of oneself. Some of the major causes of school depression include financial
problems, academic achievements, extracurricular, relationships with friends, peers, parents, and
sometimes even romances. (The Causes of Stress in High School Students Psychology). When
an educator takes the stress positively, and considered the schoolwork as a challenge, students
are more likely to be successful in learning and achieving their academic ambitions. But when
students take the stress negatively, they will feel hopeless and lost, and eventually will not
achieve their academic goals. This academic stress can cause students to resort to academic
dishonesty such as cheating in exams so as to meet these high expectations. Even if students can
afford tuition, the onerous stress, pressure and less sleep should live through when having to deal
both work and school often become too much to keep up. Some students thrive in this
circumstance and others make the tough decision to drop out. (Health News, 2017) Dropping out
which leaves the students with student loans and lack of a career help that would pay them off
faster. (Ralph Heibutzki, 2016). Even though it is not uncommon for dropouts to grapple with
low self-esteem, not everybody experiences that way. Some students prefer to mark the first step
toward a career path that feels more worthwhile and it is better to take out and live free of
credits, papers and tests. (Kasey Bubnash, 2017). On the other hand, students with depression
may turn to other ways to deal with their stress such as the use of drugs and alcohol, eating
disorder or even suicidal thoughts or attempts of suicide. Students who are unable to cope with
severe stress will grow tension in their existence.
Some people want to dismiss the problem of mental illness and its stigma, by claiming
this is only discrimination, but the stigma of mental illness influences every part of individuals
life – external and internal. Discrimination only speaks to a legal barrier of mental illness and
does not address major issues of stigma. According to USA Today by Liz Szabo, “Although most
people with mental illness are not violent, USA's dysfunctional, long-neglected mental health
system is under a microscope because of school shootings in which the perpetrators had serious
psychiatric problems.” The stigma which compels many individuals to live in shame rather than
look for support, even as their lives suffer. However, patients who want help generally can’t find
it. “The Medicare law discriminates against those with mental illness, as well, by limiting the
number of days that patients can receive inpatient psychiatric care. Medicare imposes no such
limits for physical health…” (Liz Szabo, 2016). Indeed, discrimination is when people
experience in public and private insurance not covering requirement for mental health treatment
and services or that so many mentally ill individuals are unemployed. Both stigma and
discrimination trap individuals in a cycle of illness. However, stigma externally affected because
the society discrimination blocks the way with opportunities in seeking employment and even
housing. Stigma internally affected individual’s mental health since they are prone to believe the
stereotype that exacerbated by the history and media as a mark of disgrace, this lead to
discouragement from seeking help or getting treatment, and as a result, their symptoms become
unfortunate and more difficult to treat. It is not about discrimination, but how the attitude of our
communities can cause people with mental illness to be treated terribly or classify them in a way
that damage their status in the society.
Every one of us in the mental health community need to be the vocal against stigma.
Stigma causes people to feel guilty to something that is out of their control and prevents them
from seeking help they need. “One in four Americans has a mental illness of some kind…”
(Jenev, Caddell, 2019). If you are suffering with mental illness, know that you are not alone.
Stay connected with family and friends and get support. Organizations such as National Council
for Behavioral Health provides educational and treatment resources for individuals and families
who are affected by mental illness. Get treatment so that you can reduce the effects of the illness
and promote recovery. For others, it is important to educate ourselves and people around us.
Speak up against stigma by reminding individuals that their language matters. Getting involved
in programs developed to break down a few of these society barriers and raise boost mental
health community support. If a family member or a friend makes a ridicule comments on a
person with mental illness, educate them and have no sympathy from it. While stigma exists,
soon it can be eradicate with more substantial education and awareness regarding on mental