Although mental illness is common, it is not easily talked about. Mental illness is still associated with stigma in large parts of the general population. One reason is probably the lack of knowledge and fear.
Many of those that suffer from mental illness suffer in silence. Having mental health problems may be associated with fear of stigmatizing attitudes. Not knowing whom to talk to or where to seek help are also barriers to getting professional help.
Severely ill persons are at risk of living under economically poor conditions and of being marginalized. Their social network may be damaged due to long periods with untreated symptoms that are difficult to handle for family and friends.
Many relatives and significant others also experience the difficult sides of mental illness. They too may suffer in silence. Resources for mental health care are not sufficient to help all those in need, including patients and their families.
If the persons that are ill cannot make their voice heard, those than can – whether ill or healthy – need to start talking. We need to start talking about mental illness to reduce stigma and other barriers to getting professional help.
Talking doesn’t mean navel-gazing, but the courage to see and talk about individuals’ right to respect and human dignity. Mental illness is not a choice, it can strike anyone.
We need to de-dramatize the subject of mental illness so as not to scare individuals that suffer from it from opening up and seeking help. Individuals whose quality of life can be enhanced through treatment, whether medical, therapeutic or else, for instance through the support of an informed and knowledgeable friend.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King Jr.