The term “mental illness” is used to describe any disorder or condition of the mind, including psychiatric disorders, primary mental disorders, or mood disorders (Mental Health Act, 1983).
Initially, the first question that arises is why, even though it is a disorder of the mind, as implied by the foreign terminology, in Greek is usually mentioned as “mental illness” and not as “cognitive/mental disorder”.
What is mental health?
Could someone say that this happens because our mental health depends to a great extent on our thoughts, and thus, on an extension, on our mind? Unfortunately, not everyone makes this connection. Many of us, when they hear that someone suffers from a mental illness, immediately think of a psychiatric hospital or, in any case, someone who is not considered very rational.
I won’t hide from you that I used to believe something similar. Many times, uncharted and unfamiliar territories are automatically considered dangerous. Maybe that’s why any mental health problem is automatically associated with something bad.
Did you know that:
- Some of the most common mental disorders include depression, anxiety/stress, and sleep disorders.
- 1 in 4 people experiences a mental disorder every year.
- The shame they feel about talking about it and the silence they choose can be as harmful to their health as the disorder itself.
- Approximately 30% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
- 1 in 8 young people will experience a mental disorder.
These statistics highlight the prevalence of mental health issues and the importance of addressing them openly and compassionately.
Therefore, mental disorders are not rare, distant, or limited to a specific group of people. They are common and can affect anyone. Recognizing this and being open to discussing mental health is crucial for providing support and understanding to those who may be experiencing such challenges. By reducing stigma and increasing awareness, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive society where people feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health concerns.
How to support someone with a mental illness
It is important to support our loved ones if we feel something is happening. We should lend them our ears, maintain an open-minded attitude toward mental disorders, and expand our understanding. We shouldn’t consider these topics so foreign or irrational.
A person suffering from a mental disorder is not selfish, ungrateful, lazy, toxic, or weak. They are constantly struggling within themselves.
We ought to make an effort to be more attentive and receptive to these matters. Let’s avoid stigmatizing them and work on comprehending the issue, irrespective of the individual’s age. Reading scientific articles and research, as well as seeking the advice of a specialist, is crucial. Only someone specialized in the field with the necessary knowledge can evaluate the situation and guide us correctly.
So, the next time we hear about someone with a mental illness, let’s not close our ears or react as if we heard the worst thing in the world. This is a starting point too!
*Photo by Matthew Ball