Stop Stereotyping Mental Illness

by Robert Clunie
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HAVING a mental illness doesn’t make you crazy; it just means you need a little help. July is Mental Health Awareness month. A mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions – disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour, explain medical professionals.

mental illness

“HAVING my second child was so exciting. Until I came home from the hospital,” explains Sue. “I would have never thought I would be one of those women who suffer from postpartum depression, but I was – and it was bad. I didn’t resent the baby, but was extremely emotional watching my firstborn spend more time with my husband, while I, in her words, was told to ‘go to your baby’. To top it off I had a reflux baby who didn’t sleep, over-ate and cried all day and night. Luckily I had a great support system, and the days got easier.”

“RECOVERING from a hijacking is never easy. I was held at gunpoint by four men on the way home from work one day,” says Rick. “They hit me in the face with the gun, slapped me around a bit and eventually threw me to the ground as they drove off in my car. I was left stranded on the side of the road, scared for my life. At first I was embarrassed to go for therapy, but after weeks of nightmares and a family intervention, I did. It was the best decision I made. I won’t lie, I still think about it, but I’m not scared to leave the house anymore.”

Causes Of Mental illness:

WHILE researchers are still trying to understand what causes mental illness, there is a mix of factors that contribute to it. Here are some causes:

  • Genetic Factors: Having a close family member with a mental illness can increase the risk.
  • Drug And Alcohol Abuse: This can trigger a manic episode, say experts.
  • Other Biological Factors: Some medical conditions or hormonal changes.
  • Early Life Environment: Negative childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect can increase the risk of some mental illnesses.
  • Trauma And Stress: Social isolation, domestic violence and a relationship breakdown are some examples.
  • Personality Factors: Certain traits like low self-esteem, anxiety or even perfectionism.

Different Types Of Mental Illness:

THERE are many different types of mental illness – some more serious than others. And while some can be controlled, others need medical attention. According to Healthdirect.gov.au, there are nearly 300 mental disorders listed in the DSM- 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Edition 5). This is a handbook used by health professionals to help identify and diagnose mental illness. Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:

  • Mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia
  • Trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse disorders

Myths & Misunderstandings:

  • Mental illnesses are not a form of intellectual disability or brain damage.
  • They are not all incurable and lifelong.
  • Not all people with mental illness are born with it – many factors can contribute to the onset of a mental illness.
  • There is help – it is important to talk openly about mental illness to reduce the stigma against it, and help people seek the necessary

Don’t! – HERE are five things to never say to someone with a mental illness:

  1. Stop acting crazy.
  2. Just don’t worry about it.
  3. This makes me want to kill myself.
  4. Therapy is for people who are weak.
  5. Things will be better in the morning.

The Stars Speak Out:

AS mentioned on the opposite page there are a number of different types of mental illnesses. These are just some of the many celebrities who have opened up about theirs.

  • Janet Jackson Depression:

mental illness

“The struggle was intense. I could analyse the source of my depression forever,” Janet explains. “Low self-esteem might be rooted in childhood feelings of inferiority. It could relate to failing to meet impossibly high standards. And of course there are always the societal issues of racism and sexism. Put it all together and [it’s] a tenacious and scary condition.”

  • Ariana Grande Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

“I think a lot of people have anxiety, especially right now,” she says. “My anxiety has anxiety… I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never really spoken about it because I thought everyone had it, but when I got home from tour it was the most severe I think  it’s ever been.”

  • Mayim Bialik Depression:

mental illness

“I think what I would have liked to tell my younger self about my mental health is that there are answers,” says Mayim, adding, “For me, some of those answers I had to wait years to find and I needed to get different help, which ended up being really the right kind of help.”

  • Camila Cabello Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

“OCD is weird. I laugh about it now,” says Cabello, 21. “Everybody has different ways of handling stress. And, for me, if I get really stressed about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it.

  • Busy Philipps Social Anxiety And Postpartum Anxiety:

mental illness

“I was barely holding it together,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone else touching [my daughter]. I felt like I was the only one that could help or soothe her. That was a hard time.”

  • Mariah Carey Bipolar Disorder:

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she explained. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love: writing songs and making music.”

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