thinking out loud about Mental health stigma

something that frustrates me is this idea society seems to have, where what has been created is a hierarchy on what is essentially a ‘serious’ or ‘real’ mental illness. Despite the many jokes that may be made towards certain mental disorders, and this being wrongly seen as evidence that there is a stigma against these illnesses, when it comes down to it, particular mental illness are actually taken very seriously by the wider public, when it comes to such debates as who can and can’t work, for example you can be sure they’d take an illness like schizophrenia seriously enough to consider them in the category of not being able to work. Without any sense that they feel resentment towards them, since schizophrenia is seen as a real illness, when compared with Depression. Bipolar from my experience has a mixed response, it’s taken just as seriously, or more or less as seriously as schizophrenia,  but then plenty still seem to treat it akin to depression, unless psychosis is involved.

This all sounds wrong to people whenever I say it. “But mental health is stigmatised” and I’m saying that some of them aren’t stigmatised quite as much as we’re constantly told. I’m saying depression is potentially more stigmatised than an illness like schizophrenia. People don’t see depression as a real illness, or as serious enough to be considered on par with the seriousness of a mental illness like schizophrenia.

When i come across debates about the ‘welfare state’ I repeatedly come across illnesses and disabilities being essentially catergorized into what they deem worthy of having money from the government. I always come away assured that people with “just depression” do not fit the criteria of people who could possibly be too ill to work, they don’t deserve such benefits. Their illness isn’t real enough or some shit like that.

People scoff at me when I bring up such observations, which in of itself tells me a lot.

We spend so long being taught about what once may have been a genuine issue, maybe still is to a lesser extent. We carry on running with things, carry on running with the problems we sought to improve and sometimes we become so wrapped up in solving the issue, we dont even see the progress we might have already made. We scoff at people who say they have now started to observe the opposite and we tell tell them they’re probably uneducated morons. We see it in the LGBT community, we see it in the gender equality debates and I see it in the topic of mental health. I see one particular  illness falling through the cracks, not considered as serious enough with a common attitude of “pull your socks up” an attitude most ordinary people just don’t have towards what is deemed more real mental illness, e.g those that include psychosis.

I guess the problem in part comes from the idea everyone thinks they can relate to depression in some way. After all everyone feels down sometimes. Everyone gets the blues. Plus we all seem to know of someone who has been diagnosed with depression. Nobody can be bothered to consider that maybe there are different types of depression. There are so,e depressions that come directly from an external source, for example a death of someone close and a prolonged sadness that goes beyond the usual grieving process. This depression is as real as any other depression, while it lasts. But that’s the thing, those people often do recover from their depression. Then there is depression that appears to be innate to the individual suffering from it. External sources only worsen a depression that was always already there. This can be a chronic illness for that person. It’s there year  in and year out, like a physical disability or illness that can’t be cured. The medication doesn’t cure it, it simply eases it if that. The therapy doesn’t cure it, simply helps you try to cope with it.

I’m not saying stigma doesn’t exist towards other mental illnesses, but what I am saying is that I don’t believe they’re stigmatised as much as we’re taught. They once were, but we’re running with trying to solve the problem but everyone you talk to seems agree that they are stigmatised against, which says a lot in of itself. If the majority seemingly agrees that it is still wrongly stigmatised against, then who is doing the stigmatising? Or perhaps that brings us to a whole other topic that brings up political correctness, and it’s inherent dangers. Perhaps we all agree because it’s polite to agree, and hate has gone underground.

 

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