I said I was going to rant less, but things are bothering me so….
Mental Illness and the Perception of It
Views on mental health seem to exist in sort of a dichotomy where you’re either entirely fine or in requirement of rather extreme intervention. There’s very little allowance for the in between. This has gotten a little better in recent years, but what ends up happening, is the dichotomy keeps moving. Instead of “don’t trust mentally ill individuals” it becomes “don’t trust the dangerous mentally ill individuals”.
There’s also the idea of if you have a mental illness you go to the doctor and get “fixed” and everything is back to normal. This view is rather problematic because aside from the negative messages that you need to get better as soon as possible, there’s also lifelong illnesses that might never be cured. There’s also the fact that sometimes cures can make things worse and a person might opt to seek a different kind of management for their condition for whatever reason.
So where does this leave us? With a group of people who suffer from a wide variety of things known as mental illness, in a society that stereotypes them.
When violent crimes happen, there is always some person ready to speculate the individual who committed was a sociopath, or had something wrong with them. “Normal” people don’t just commit crimes.
Oftentimes people who act offbeat or atypical will be told they have something wrong with them, or have assumptions made about their ability to function in society.
There’s more, but I don’t want to ramble too long, my general hope here is that we need to reject these assumptions.
Having a mental illness means a person has a mental illness.
It does inherently not mean:
- They are violent
- They are weak
- They are untrustworthy
- They do not have a right to privacy
- They cannot be their own guardian
- They have a low IQ
- They have a high IQ
- They are unstable
If someone shares with you that they have a mental illness, check your assumptions and listen to what they are saying, and what they want you to understand. Disclosing mental health status is risky and odds are whoever sharing this is placing a lot of trust in telling you. If you need clarification about things ask if you can ask questions first.
In the end the best you can do is drop your assumptions and listen to the individuals who have these conditions. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of assumptions that get passed around, and please, think before you speak. Careless words and actions can be harmful, so please, let go of your assumptions and learn before you judge.
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