20 February 2017

Written by Marc Lamberts
for Daily Focal

Mental health. The world health says it all, it’s of vital importance to take care of. For some reason your mental health is considered less important than your physical health, which in my opinion is very strange. But the stigma is ever present and we really need to speak about it more, because only then can we tear down this stigma and taboo on mental health.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder not too long ago and while I have had support, a lot of people have left me. Friendship are terminated as it were and it made me think about the labels. I’ve been giving a label in the psychological sense of it all, but also a social label. And, the social label is what makes it so hard to speak about your mental illnesses.

Personally, I think there are three different groups on the receiving end, when you start to talk about mental health issues or problems:

1. People who suffer themselves and are understanding to a certain degree
2. People who want to understand, but can’t and therefore react in a manner which can be concluded as negative
3. People who don’t want to understand

I think the second group is the largest group out there and education is of vital importance to the process of understanding. They want to understand so they turn to the media. They see films and TV series, see social media and read a lot of stuff on the internet about mental illnesses. They form an idea of what mental illnesses are and create a wrong image of what it truly means to be mentally ill. Of course understanding 100% is almost impossible, but by sending out the wrong messages in the foresaid media, stigma is only growing and reactions are mainly negative.

In order to reduce stigma, we should educate everyone about mental health. In schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, communities, sports, hospitals and you name it. It’s of vital importance that society as a whole learns more and more about mental health. Only when everyone learns about we can reduce stigma and the wrong images will disappear in books, films, series, newspapers, social media and websites. Mental health is not something to take lightly. It disrupts lives, it makes life so much harder for a lot of people. When we are more educates as society, we can work as a collective to create more understanding. We can create a better support system, more structured and more accessible. 

It’s not easy to change things, this is hard. But nothing worth doing is easy. It’s just a big task to do and the one thing I know, is that we have to keep discussing, speaking and get it out there. Only if we stick together we can battle this.

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