There is still a long way to go when it comes to unpacking the negative and often inaccurate stigma of more serious conditions, writes 17-year-old student Elona Sekiraq for Mirror NextGen
Image: Getty Images)
We are making great strides in the field of mental health, but more needs to be done to tackle the stigma surrounding severe forms of mental illness, such as bipolarity or schizophrenia.
It’s been encouraging to see the big push to be more open about mental health, especially during the trying times of the pandemic.
But there’s still a long way to go when it comes to unpacking the negative and often inaccurate stigma of more serious medical conditions.
Aisling Traynor, Head of Counseling and Information Services at Rethink Mental Disease says: “I think in some ways some of the stigma is going down.
“For example, illnesses such as depression and anxiety. I think people are more comfortable talking about these conditions. I think people are accepting these conditions more and more.
“But where I think there’s still a lot of stigma is more with people who are severely affected by mental illness. For example, this could be someone with schizophrenia or bipolar. And there really is a problem with stigma.”
These diseases are much more common than we think, one in 100 people is affected by schizophrenia.
Given how common these mental illnesses are, the portrayal we often see in the media bears little resemblance to reality.
Aisling adds: “What I would like to see more is more awareness among those affected by more severe forms of mental illness.
“A surprisingly common example is schizophrenia – it affects one in 100 people – which seems to be quite a large number of people.
“And I think there’s a lot in the news about mental health, which is great, but it’s probably more about conditions like depression and anxiety.”
Most importantly, Aisling says, we need to remember that even people with the most serious medical conditions can live “wonderful and fulfilling lives.”
“If you’re thinking of reducing stigma, it would be great to see more of people severely impacted by mental illness and just some of their incredible journeys,” she says.
“These are people who are living with mental illness but are actually living wonderful, fulfilling lives, and that shines a light on that.
“Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you can’t have a truly positive life and hope. I think that’s what I’d like to see covered a bit more.”
More people are using social media than ever before, and as a result, platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have also pushed us to be more exposed to media that has portrayed mental health in some shape or form.
Using the example of schizophrenia. Some media reports, whether it be the news, social media, a television drama, or movies, may portray schizophrenia as unpredictable and lead to violent behavior.
The actual symptoms are lack of motivation, disorganized thinking, etc Rethinking mental illness.
This underscores the detrimental effects media can have, leading to common misconceptions about mental illness.
But social media platforms can also be a force for good.
tiktoker @mdmotivator shares stories in public where he holds a sign and those who refer to it hug him. His most viral tick tock with 50 million views in November 2021, where a mother thanks him for what he does, and with more stories of other people going through the pain of loss.
The great thing we can take away from this is that it is It’s okay to trust each other and it’s okay to seek help.
Fighting back against the inner voice in your head telling you to give up doesn’t make you weak, if anything, it makes you stronger.
That little grain of hope is what we need to hold on to so we can thrive and be the person we never knew we could be.
Accounts like this one, using their platforms to share their message along with people interacting globally via the commenting feature to share their stories, provide this ability to heal and give hope to the person reading it that things are getting better will.
However, people need to be careful when using the internet and social media to diagnose themselves.
The resulting paranoia and anxiety can cause more stress and trauma in yourself and those around you.
So before jumping to conclusions it is best to seek professional medical help rather than jumping to conclusions which can do more harm than good.
Aisling says: “We would always say that it is really important to speak to a professional to get a diagnosis.
“Even if you want to do a little research online first, that’s fine.
“But it’s so important to get a professional diagnosis so you don’t misunderstand what your condition might be or what the appropriate support might be for you.”
The fight against the stigma and negative perceptions of mental health is far from over.
It will take the whole world and future generations to bring about this change.
It is important to remember that we are more alike than different during this time.
These issues that we hide from society are more common than we think, and being exposed to them creates a sense of security, being able to talk to people and not being ashamed, making us feel alone and scared.
Instead, adopt this to set a healthy example for the younger generations.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/we-must-more-tackle-negative-26592980 "We must do more to combat the negative stigma attached to bipolarity or schizophrenia"