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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 health.