Mental illness, or also known as a mental disorder is a topic that has been getting more media coverage in the last decade, but when it comes to the solution and general knowledge the “invisible” problem of all mental illnesses we did not really come that far. The words that best describe the circumstances of why it is important to dispute about mental illness and mental health are the words from Director-General of WHO: “Mental health has been hidden behind a curtain of stigma and discrimination for too long. It is time to bring it out into the open.” (2003:3) This essay will, therefore, try to address the problem and break the stigma that surrounds mental illness by trying to present importance of mental health to our everyday lives.
The biggest misunderstandings and stigma about mental illness are due to the fact that it is not a visible sickness, a person can have depression, anxiety etc. and on the first look seem healthy and well. That is, why when dealing with mental illnesses, we have to be extra cautious to actually recognize signs of particular disorders. The importance of this lays in prevention and a lot of it has to do with suicide prevention, especially if we are talking about depression. Suicide prevention sometimes has more to do with people surrounding the person than experts in the psychology field since quite often patients do not ask for help directly and this is where the education about mental illnesses is crucial and to know about it means to talk about it, without stigma.
In this day and age, it seems that mental health comes as a low priority on everyone’s lists, but to lead a healthy life the concept of mental health needs to be taken into the equation as one of the key factors. The World Health Organization defined mental health as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ” (2003:7) They also stress the importance of levelling the scales between physical and mental scale, something that the world is not thinking about enough. Mental health affects the whole society, not only those who have it impaired and that is why awareness about this situation is needed and some actions should be taken immediately.
On the topic of prevention and education, we can also talk about preventing mental illnesses altogether. For example, training teachers and parents to recognize potential problems has proven to be effective in prevention (WHO, 2003). Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting around 340 million people all over the world (WHO, 2004) and solely for that reason educating about positive thinking and improving problem-solving skills can better a lot of lives, as well as save them.
In conclusion, mental illness is a universal problem that has been surrounded by stigma and not treated as a proper illness, when compared to physical illnesses. Mental health is a key factor in leading a healthy life and promoting it needs to be a measure taken by public institutions like schools which will lead to breaking the stigma of mental illness.
World Health Organization, Preventing Mental Disorders: Effective Interventions and Policy Options, Summary Report, (2004) France
World Health Organization, Investing in Mental Health, (2003) Nove Impressions, Switzerland