People suffering from mental illness are usually perceived in a negative light. They're believed to be a danger to society. This view is in part propelled by the media, who often portray people with such conditions as violent beings, waiting to explode. While in fact, it is more likely that they'll inflict damage on themselves rather than others.
This stigma is borne from a dearth of knowledge and pure ignorance on our part to educate ourselves and others on this subject. These misconceptions have no grounding in reality or factual knowledge.
Rather than feeling sympathy or understanding their predicament, society adopts an attitude of distaste, believing that many of their problems pertaining to mental illness are self-inflicted; that the reason they are suffering is that they lack moral fiber; or that this is entirely a ploy for attention. Fostering such an unhealthy attitude corrupts and erodes society's compassion, and excuses those who mistreat the ones with mental illness.
This societal stigma can harm and endanger the lives of the vulnerable, and has many repercussions on their life:
1. Trapping them in a cycle of illness.
As they're constantly reminded of their "abnormality" by society, including their friends, family and colleagues, they remain apprehensive about proper therapy and treatment. This only worsens their condition and makes recovery even harder.
2. Isolation from society.
Being treated as outcasts, they have a hard time finding adequate living conditions, employment or a support group. This hampers their access to society's many resources which they can use for enriching their quality of life.
3. Facing discrimination.
This stigma paves way to discrimination, one way or the other. As the negative connotations begin to etch in our head, we either express this resentment through our words, in terms of derogatory remarks and comments; or they might come out indirectly, by actively avoiding and isolating people who have any mental illness.
4. Leads to self-deprecation.
This social stigma further leads to self-stigmatization, where people who are mentally ill start to believe that they're the reason for their unhappiness and that they don't deserve to get better.
This is why we should bring this issue to the forefront and help out anyone who might be feeling isolated and promote their recovery.
The lockdown can trigger a lot of trauma for your children such as the fear of them or their loved ones being infected, receiving medical treatment or dying. Their daily routine has been disrupted just like the adults. The structure and stimulation schools provide is gone as well as the social support from their friend circle. The pandemic has put everyone on the edge, and this puts additional pressure on the parents.
This makes it the perfect time to sit down with your child and assuage their fears and worries by discussing mental health and care with them. Having a proper grip and knowledge on mental health can lead to developing resilience and becoming well-rounded and emotionally healthy adults. Being informed decreases the anxiety that comes from the uncertainty and mystery of it all. This way the youth will have a more objective and rational approach.
Here are a few pointers on how to get the ball rolling and the conversation started:
1. Start with yourself. Recognize your own mental health. Take care of yourself and start by discussing your feelings to create a rapport with your child. Educate yourself on different topics pertaining to mental health and illness before talking to your child.
2. Select a familiar backdrop. To make the conversation more casual and comfortable let them choose the setting. It could be outside on the swings; while throwing the ball around; or while having a meal or snack.
3. Be discreet and mindful when discussing serious family issues of the likes of finances, marital problems or ailments around your children. This can fuel their stress and anxiety. Be vigilant of their condition and the issues they are facing. Traumatic circumstances can trigger problems for people who are vulnerable.
4. Don't let them feel bad for thoughts they might think are wrong, immoral or selfish. Children vent their feelings via anger which is fuelled by the guilt they often feel by their musings. Comfort them in this regard by telling them that brooding over certain ideas and concepts is natural and to not let these overwhelm them.
5. Ground the issue of mental health by showing how it manifests itself into physical symptoms. Ask them if they have noticed how their heart beats faster and they start sweating when nervous or scared. Thus concluding that their thoughts and feelings have an impact on their body.
6. The environment at home should be healthy and supportive. Boost their self-esteem. Don't let the cultural stigma around mental health corrupt your household. Open discussions can end this stigma before it starts to breed.
7. Don't brush aside their feelings and emotions as being petty or trivial. Put yourself in their shoes and then assess the severity of the issue. Shower them with love, acceptance and recognition towards their problems.
8. Keep asking them questions to get them talking and expressing themselves. Attuning and acknowledgment of feelings will encourage them to open themselves to you. What they are looking for is empathy and understanding, not solutions. Psychological issues never present black-and-white solutions.
There's no perfect way of life for everyone out there. Mental health is about striking a perfect balance in life, and this balance looks different for every individual.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!