We are not alone!
End the stigma!
Never give up!
These are the cries of a group of individuals who have suffered in shame, embarrassment, and silence for far too long. For years, mental illness and instability was only whispered about behind closed doors. Those who did not struggle with mental health often dismissed mental illness as “crazy,” and those who did battle with mental health issues were terrified to admit to their challenges.
Mental Illness Awareness Week
Finally, this ruthless tide is beginning to turn. Brave individuals are stepping forward, opening up, and telling the stories about their struggles with mental illness. Though we are moving in the right direction, we still have a very long way to go before our culture will truly understand and respect the challenges people with mental illnesses face. In order to help us keep moving forward, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has designated this week (the first full week of October) Mental Illness Awareness Week. In honor of MIAW, I want to share with you some important things I have learned about mental illness during my work as an online mental health counselor.
Mental Illness Comes In All Different Forms
It is impossible to describe mental illness in a concise manner because it manifests in hundreds of different ways. It can affect everyone from the sullen teenager with the failing grades to the successful, high-power executive. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self esteem, anger management issues, substance addiction, and self-injurious behavior are just a few examples of the different ways mental illness can manifest. No matter how their challenges manifest, however, individuals suffering from mental illness all have two things in common:
- They often feel misunderstood by others and (therefore) isolated from their friends and family.
- They desperately need support and reassurance, but they don’t know how (or are afraid) to ask for it.