We have only scratched the surface. We are not doing enough.
I’m talking about addressing the mental health crisis.
One of the few positive things about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it brought the mental health crisis in the US to light. A countless number of people suffered from anxiety and depression during this time and many continue to suffer, as TV news has told us repeatedly during the last three years.
The TV news has also given us advice, advice, and more advice on how to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression.
This is all a good start, but we need to do more.
It seems that on TV (and in society in general) we can talk about depression and anxiety all we want, but the minute we start talking about more severe mental illnesses—bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, to name two—everyone runs away, including the news media.
Why is this?
Is it because people with severe mental illness are portrayed as dangerous and as monsters in many movies, entertainment TV, and books?
Is it because we like to film individuals whom we assume are mentally ill having fits in public and plaster their images on YouTube and TikTok so that our friends can laugh at them and call them “Karens” and who knows what else?
Is this right? Is this compassionate? Is this fair?
I think you know the answer to those questions.
I have to admit that I did not go to medical school, so I can hardly call myself an expert on mental illness. However, I can say that I have relatives and friends with severe mental illnesses, and life has been a struggle for them many a time. Several of them have been hospitalized due to their condition. They are ashamed of it and don’t want to reveal it to anyone, all because of the stigma surrounding it.
This stigma is what we have to fight. And we do so by talking openly about severe mental illness. We need to open up about schizophrenia and bipolar, as well as keep discussing depression and anxiety.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add that my relatives and friends with mental illness have been very successful in their lives and careers. But they would not have been able to do so without treatment, and people in general don’t seek treatment without information. And we get information by talking about the condition.
Are we ready to break the stigma?