The stigma behind mental health is very much alive. A taboo subject, even still in 2017, is an issue that still needs awareness and acceptance. I consider myself a very caring individual. I attempt to consider perspectives from every angle. I have friends and family who unfortunately suffer from various mental illnesses stemming from anxiety and depression, to body dysmorphic disorder, to dissociative identity disorder. Each and every illness has its high and low points. Many people are still uncomfortable with the fact that not being normal is existent. What is normal? Why can’t people accept differences? Why is shaming an individual still a thing? Why is bullying still an active thing people of all ages participate in?
This morning I received a message from a friend via social media. This friend, I will call her Nancy, reached out online to inquire about crisis line services. Although she was welcomed with many responses from people who came to her aid and offered assistance, she was also met with ridicule and shame. Nancy needed someone to talk to because her mental illness had been building up pressure that was about to burst over the seams. I offered my advice where I could in the hopes that one positive thing I said could combat the ten negative things eating at her mind. Nancy told me that the crisis line was tremendous in helping her exercise different options. They calmed her down and offered her websites to search for therapists and resources in her area that may be able to help her in the future if she needed it. However, she told me she woke up a hateful instant message from an individual her mother’s age telling her she was pathetic and spoiled. The woman began telling her that she had no knowledge of real world problems and that her asking for help was a cry for attention.
Cyber bullying is the act of attacking a person online. 30% of individuals who were cyber bulled turned toward self-harming behaviors and began having suicidal thoughts whereas 87% of youth today have witnessed cyberbullying in action (“Cyberbullying Facts and Statistics”, 2017). Although bullying can take many forms, with growing technology, the Internet is the easiest way to target others.
43.8 million (1 in 5) adults in America experience an episode of mental illness a year (“Mental Health by the Numbers”, 2017). When we think about this, 41% of those adults living with a mental illness received help within a given a year. That leaves a whooping 59% that have a mental illness that do not seek help (“Mental Health by the Numbers”, 2017).
Nancy, who may or may not have received previous help for her mental illness might not seek out a medical professional because cyberbullying that told her that it is only a cry for attention and that she was worthless in any attempt to correct her behavior or existence. Leaving individuals without medical assistance when they truly need it has negative consequences on the person and on society. Suicide is the 10th most prominent cause of death in America and the 2nd leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15-24 (“Mental Healthy by the Numbers”, 2017). 90% of children who commit suicide were living with a mental illness.
People are less likely to seek out help if they are intimidated or abused for their feelings. Although there is an increase in awareness for mental health, it still is not talked about enough for people to understand the consequences they have on others by placing inferiority where they shouldn’t.
Educate yourself. Educate your children. Educate your students. Save a life. Be understanding. Extend a helping hand where it is needed instead of holding someone down.
Cyberbullying facts and statistics. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.teensafe.com/blog/cyber-bullying-facts-and-statistics/
Mental health by the numbers. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers