So…I was just on a news website and a story caught my eye:
Routine depression screening for adults not recommended
Okay. I guess that makes sense. I mean, if someone isn’t exhibiting symptoms, then why bother to check them.
But wait a minute. Lots of people don’t exhibit symptoms of heart disease either. Or, in some cases – cancer. Hell, even diabetes can go unnoticed unless the proper tests are run. So, why is depression different?
Is it because people don’t want to know if they could potentially be suffering from depression or another mental illness? Ignore it and therefore, it can’t possibly be? How many stories have we heard in the news lately about someone shooting someone (or in a few cases, a number of people) and then we find out that they have a ‘mental disorder’? How many young people have turned to suicide because they can’t find a way out?
Why is mental illness still such a ‘hush-hush’ disease?
Because we’ve made it that way. Society still sees those with mental disorders as ‘incomplete, not worthy’ – sometimes those suffering are even made to feel like they’re lying.
I don’t know about you, but if someone asked me if I had cancer, I certainly wouldn’t tell them ‘OH GOD NO! Why would you even ask that? I’m perfectly healthy!” Yet, that’s exactly what we would say to anyone asking if we had a mental health issue.
Mental Health issues are one of the last acceptable prejudices (that and calling someone fat). It’s a constant source for comedians, television shows, books – day to day life. Who here (me included) hasn’t said ‘That bitch is CRAZY!’ or ‘What a complete mental case!’ I wouldn’t say that about someone with any other disease…so, why with (insert mental disorder here)?
Well, I could get into a rant about why people actually watch reality television, but I won’t -(okay, just a sentence – people watch reality tv to feel better about themselves – watching losers on TV apparently justifies this reasoning). People need to feel superior. People do not like to feel weak. People don’t like to have their mental well being brought into question. We are supposed to be strong and invincible! Anyone with a mental issue has to be weak and therefore, inferior to those who are big and strong!
Now, I say this because with this article, came a number of comments. The first 3 of them all said (in some fashion) that people who take anti depressants are stupid and that we should all just learn to buck up and grow a backbone. Life sucks – get over it! And my very favourite – “Drugs are no way to solve issues, prescribed or illicit. Society needs to take one big look at itself. Family values are gone, society has become party all the time no work, everyone blames the government… people need to start looking at themsevles in the mirror. Life is not a cake walk and you just can reach for the joint, line, or pill bottle when things are not going your way…” (from the CBC website – cbc.com).
Sigh. I will agree that we have come so far in recognizing mental illness – there has been study after study done on it. People are becoming more and more open about discussing it. Schools are implementing programs to ensure that kids who are experiencing mental illness have somewhere to go. But – there is still that stigma – that attitude that reflects a good percentage of the population who believes it’s a matter of just ‘not being sad’ any more.
(I believe this is a quote by Glenn Close)
If people don’t think this way about cancer, a horrible, disgusting and terminal disease – why can’t the same attitude be taken towards those with mental illness? Because I know a number of people who also think that mental illness is horrible and disgusting – and if not treated properly, life ending.