Areeha Ijaz

Areeha Ijaz

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Areeha Ijaz

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In today’s society, where stereotypical and mythological stories and tales control the minds and hearts of people who, even in this 21st century, choose to live in the age of ignorance and willfully choose to keep the doors of their restricted brains closed so that they may lack knowledge and enlightenment sufficiently to prove their confined ideologies and yet being proud of it shamelessly, it grieves us to see that myth and mental illness are like unfortunate twin sisters in this society. Since many years, a lot of myths and misunderstandings are related with people who are suffering from mental illness and the disease itself.

“It is an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once unspeakable, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness.”Glenn Close

A traditionally or culturally influenced idea or a story, widely held by a lot of people, but is a false belief, therefore proves to be a misrepresentation of the truth in a society is called a Myth. Regarding mental illness, there are a bunch of myths and misunderstandings that prevail in today’s society, thus ruining and restricting the lives of those suffering from it and their families and guardians. The exaggerations regarding mental illness and the stereotypical stories and discussions are a big hindrance in the happiness and satisfaction of the people who are suffering from it. It leads to isolation and discrimination among people, thus causing misunderstandings to arise in a community. Moreover, such scenarios also lead to growing intolerance and hatred among people and may divide them even more.

A while ago I read a brochure regarding mental health illness which I found on the website of the Australian government’s Health Department and I found it extremely useful for understanding this topic in detail. This is the first in a series of brochures on mental illness funded by the Australian Government under the National Mental Health Strategy. Under the Myths and misunderstandings heading, I read about several questions that people have regarding this disease which ultimately becomes exaggerations and myths. I decided to write this article and mention all the questions and the answers which that brochure provided to me, right here!

So, here are the Six most common questions that a lot of people have, regarding mental illness (as mentioned in the brochure itself);

1. Are mental illnesses a form of intellectual disability or brain damage?

No. They are illnesses just like any other, such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. Yet the traditions of sympathy, support, and flowers given to people with physical illnesses are often denied to those with a mental illness.”

2. Are mental illnesses incurable and lifelong?

No. When treated appropriately and early, many people recover fully and have no further episodes of illness. For others, mental illness may recur throughout their lives and require ongoing treatment. This is the same as many physical illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Like these other long-term health conditions, mental illness can be managed so that individuals live life to the fullest. Although some people become disabled as a result of ongoing mental illness, many who experience even very major episodes of illness live full and productive lives.”

3. Are people born with a mental illness?

No. A vulnerability to some mental illnesses, such as bipolar mood disorder, can run in families. But other people develop mental illness with no family history. Many factors contribute to the onset of a mental illness. These include stress, bereavement, relationship breakdown, physical and sexual abuse, unemployment, social isolation, and major physical illness or disability. Our understanding of the causes of mental illness is growing.”

4. Can anyone develop a mental illness?

Yes. In fact, as many as one in five Australians may develop a mental illness at some stage in their lives. Everyone is vulnerable to mental health problems. Many people feel more comfortable with the notion of having ‘a nervous breakdown’ rather than a mental illness. However, it is important to talk openly about mental illness, as this reduces the stigma and helps people to seek early treatment.”

5. Are people with mental illness usually dangerous?

No. This false perception underlies some of the most damaging stereotypes. People with a mental illness are seldom dangerous. Even people with the most severe mental illness are rarely dangerous when receiving appropriate treatment and support.”

6. Should people with a mental illness be isolated from the community?

No. Most people with a mental illness recover quickly and do not even need hospital care. Others have short admissions to hospital for treatment. Improvements in treatment over recent decades mean that most people live in their communities, and there is no need for the confinement and isolation that was commonly used in the past. A very small number of people with mental illness need hospital care, sometimes against their will. Improvements in treatment are making this less and less common, and fewer than one in a 1000 people are treated this way.”

After reading this article, I hope that many would be able to learn about what mental illness myths and misunderstandings are and what are the solutions to the problems we face due to the stereotypical mindset of people in our society. Also, there is a seventh question, too, and for that you have to stay updated as I am soon going to be posting another article regarding it and hopefully it is going to be something you guys may still have on your mind!

Lastly, I would like to add that treat mental illnesses (or disorders) just like physical diseases as they are just the same things, but the only difference is that one is with the heart and the other is with the mind, but both are sick, both are going through a misery and suffering from their diseases, both require care, love, positive attention and politeness and nobody wants to be pushed aside. So before judging anyone or calling anyone names, always put yourself in their shoes and then do what your heart says is right.

“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country.
Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.”Michelle Obama



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