You stub your toe, you cut your finger or you have a headache, all things we get from time to time, all things we aren’t ashamed to mention to others and all things we seek treatment for- whether over the counter or otherwise. So why is it that when the injury is to our minds, socially we don’t seem to place it in the same category?
I have often thought about the fact that within the dialogue about mental health, we seem to mainly discuss the “acceptable” illnesses, the depression, anxiety and OCD; bipolar, schizophrenia and never seem to be given their space within the discussion. Why is that? Aren’t they all mental illnesses? What makes one “better” than the other? Is there such a thing as a hierarchy within the classification of mental illnesses? To us, they’re all the same, yes the treatment options and symptoms are as varied as the illnesses, but unless we approach them the same way as we do other illnesses in question, but will we ever be able to fully break the stigma surrounding mental illness? Maybe it’s because it is somewhat hidden, generally speaking, you can’t look at someone and assess their mental well being, or if they have one at all. Maybe for us, we can classify and understand things when we can see it- when it’s something tangible. But our approach has to be the same and it has to be consistent, because everyone deserves to have a healthy mind and help and access should be the same.
Mental illness is usually just one part of the “issue”. We can’t start a dialogue unless we are educated on the direction of the dialogue. We are constantly claiming that “we need to talk about mental illness more. Normalize the stigma so that the stigma can be eliminated”. But why do we even have these stigmas? Feeling healthy and the importance we place on that is just as important as the attention we should be placing on mental health. We talk about having both a healthy mind and body, so if we can marry those two concepts together, why do we not consider them to be the same when the concept of mental health is at play? How does one concept take up precedence over the other? So many questions, so many answers.
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.– Fred Rogers
What makes my mental health more “superior” in some form, than yours? Being healthy is all that matters, otherwise, we will find ourselves seeking medical help for problems that we could have found a solution or remedy for before it got out of hand. We ask for help from those around us, to get things done around the house, to not feel alone. We have these support systems at our fingertips, we just have to be brave enough to seize them and become conquerors in our own right. The only way to bridge the gap between mental wellness and physical wellness is for us to look at them as one and the same. They aren’t mutually exclusive and shouldn’t be seen as such. Mental health and well-being IS physical health and well-being. The brain/mind, after all, is in the body and is one of the most VITAL aspects of the body.
This piece was originally written for EyeEyeWorld on their exploration about: How to find acceptance that Mental Health & General Health are the same thing?. You can click the link to read the original post and also check out their site with other blog posts on the the subject.