The Sunkissed Life


Jahara Stevenson

Mental Health is such a sensitive topic in our society. We want to use it an identify it when it can be beneficial instead of when it's really happening and affecting someone's life. We are quick to label the mass murderer who shoots up a public place as mentally unstable and insane, simply because we assume the only way someone can do something so unthinkable is if they are mentally not okay. However, what that does is create this stigma that in order to have any mental disability or be mentally unhealthy, one must be in this extreme state of dysfunction. However, that's not the case at all. Most people who have mental disabilities big or small actually live normal lives and struggle silently. The fact that people have to struggle silently is the problem, because then no one knows they are hurting and fighting until they've left their suicide note, snapped and committed a crime, or harmed others. We don't understand how beneficial prevention and treatment before a catastrophe is. We are missing our opportunities to save lives everyday by judging and labeling mental illness.

There are so many categories and diagnoses that fall under mental health and we have stereotypes and assumptions for every single one. Some most common mental illnesses are anxiety disorder (generalized, socialized, and phobia), mood disorder (depression, bipolar, cyclothymic disorders), psychotic (schizophrenia), eating disorders, personality (antisocial and paranoid), OCD, and PTSD, substance abuse, dissociative, facititous, sexual and gender, somatic symptom, TLC (tourettes), sleep related, dimensia and Alzheimer. Some of these we see and are accept right away like dimensia, tourettes, alzheimer, and schizophrenia but the others are harder for us to feel comfortable with like anxiety, panic, mood, and personality. The difference between the two groups is one has physical side effects and undeniable physical changes in the person suffering and the other is solely living in the persons psyche and can be unseen by others. We as a culture and society often figure if we can't see it, then the person must have made it up and they are being dramatic or looking for excuses. In reality, we just don't often know how to help someone who is mentally tormented or struggling because they look fine. It's easier to deny someone's pain if we don't have to look at it. 

That friend that doesn't want you to hug them, or always cancels plans, only wants to hang out in the house, is really hyper, always moving, wants to clean everything, really quiet, doesn't like new people, doesn't like to break their routine, always has to be a certain way, may not just be "annoying" they may actually have something going on mentally. It has been proven that 3/4 of mental cognitive and behavioral disorders are physically visible in the brain. That person is actually hardwired differently and their brain structure looks different when examined and scanned. So many people abuse the terms and symptoms of mental disorders that those who are seriously struggling can't even tell anyone because they will just be labeled as "dramatic". When we are having bad days we are so quick to say we are depressed, or if we like the cups in our cabinet to face a certain way all of a sudden we are OCD, or if we experience feeling overwhelmed for any one moment in life we've suddenly self diagnosed anxiety. When we do things like this we are desensitizing ourselves to these words. So for the person who can't hold a job because they have to wash their hands every 10 minutes or else their heart races, they begin to sweat, get nauseous, and have palpitations, they don't want to say they are actually OCD because no one cares that it actually affects their life. There's the girl who every morning physically can't get out of bed or leave the house because the chemical imbalance that is created when someone is truly depressed is keeping her hostage and her friends are just mad because they think she doesn't want to hang out.

We have to stop ignoring the signs, telling people to just get over it, and demoralizing these issues and instead educate ourselves and each other and find ways to help these people instead of shunning them.

Around 20% of the world's children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems

About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Similar types of disorders are being reported across cultures. Neuropsychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of worldwide disability in young people. Yet, regions of the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources. Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people. If so many people struggling with mental disorders are children, the first time they have access to help shouldn't be when they're 30 and don't know how to live a normal life because no one has helped them live through their challenges. We have to do better as a society. We have to care. If we don't we are going to continue dealing with catastrophes, families are going to continue to lose loved ones to suicides, we are going to continue filling our jails. Wehave to care. We have to help.