Opinion Staff Writer
When mental illness is not being demonized, it gets trivialized. Neither of these options prove helpful for those struggling with their mental health.
However, American society and media somehow manages to throw individuals with mental illnesses under the bus as a threat to society, while also making mental illness out to not be such a big deal. Both views of mental illness are very dangerous and extremely unhelpful to those who actually do have mental illnesses. These mindsets are harmful and wrong.
There is a large amount of fear when it comes to mental illness. Many people equate the term mental illness with words like psychopath and sociopath, neither of which are used by the American Psychiatric Association as an official diagnosis anymore.
The majority of violent crimes are committed by perfectly mentally healthy individuals, and mentally ill individuals are not any more or less likely to commit a violent crime than an individual without a mental illness.
Individuals with a mental illness are actually much more likely to be the target of a violent crime, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.
Others buy into fear-mongering of certain other illnesses, such as autism, where simply the idea of having certain mental illnesses makes an individual undesirable. Autism Speaks, one of the biggest autism advocacy organizations in the U.S., actively demonizes autism by producing short films and advertisements such as “I Am Autism.” In the film, an ominous narration makes claims such as] autism will destroy marriages and works faster than diseases like cancer.
Many do not see mental illness as an issue, but as something to simply get over or something made up entirely. The experiences of those with mental illnesses are invalidated either because they don’t fit a stereotype for that mental illness or the struggle isn’t seen for what it is.
Just because an illness is not visible does not mean it should not be treated, and just because the individual does not advertise what their mental illness is does not mean it is not there.
What makes seeking treatment difficult for students is the mindset that if the individual is a minor, they’re overreacting. This makes it extremely difficult for dependants to get the help that they need if their guardians believe mental illness is made up or if they believe their dependant is exaggerating.
All of these things make it difficult to seek treatment. The wide variety of stigmas associated with mental illness makes it not only terrifying to seek help, it makes those who have those illnesses that much more afraid of themselves and other people. The way society others mentally ill individuals is frankly horrifying. It needs to be put to an end.