The 'Kind of Mentally Ill' We Forget About in Our Anti-Stigma Campaigns
There has been a lot of progress with mental health awareness in the recent years, but only a few mental illnesses stand out in these speeches: anxiety and depression. You will see smiling pictures of people telling their story and their recovery, but one thing is missing: a lot of mental illnesses still have a stigma amongst mental health awareness. Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder (such as myself), and several other disorders are often omitted in the mental health movement. Here are the problems with this:
Without the inclusion of all mental disorders, those same people who raise awareness unintentionally marginalize those of us who are “socially inept” by forgetting us without realizing it. Depression and anxiety are serious, but do not predispose people to understanding all mental illnesses. Having a friend who has depression or anxiety does not necessarily make you open to all mental health struggles.
With the over representation of some mental disorder and the under representation of other mental disorders, there seems to be ‘’socially acceptable” mental health issues (even though there is still a long way to go) and less ‘’socially acceptable” mental health issues. Sometimes the less ‘’socially acceptable” mental health issues are related to how you act in public. For example, if you are not social enough, act in weird ways, have strange muscle spasm and compulsions, talk to yourself, you may be the “wrong kind of mentally ill.”
Another problem is stereotypes. We need awareness on not only what obsessive compulsive could be, like compulsive cleaning, but what it is, a huge variety of symptoms from intrusive thoughts to “strange” rituals. Schizophrenia is not always the illness that pushes people to be homeless and on drugs. Paranoia is not always a symptom that pushes people to kill. We need to hear these stories, but also stories of others who don’t fit the stereotype.
In conclusion, even though a lot of progress has been done, we still have a long way to go.
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