OPINION: Decrease Stigma and Raise Awareness of Mental Illness


Mental illness is real and everywhere, and now it’s worse because of current events such as the pandemic and a bad economy. But the bad thing with mental illness is the fact that most people don’t even receive or seek help.

There’s a lot of stigma going around that’s preventing people from getting help. As a teenager who has been through severe depression for the past four years, I am without a doubt critical of those who discriminate and stigmatize others who are mentally ill.

From my experience, some people that I’ve known would say things like “you are being overdramatic” or yell at a person to stop crying or for being stupid. These types of words and stigma are extremely harmful and can prevent people from seeking help or getting better. 

According to Mental Health America, only 27.3% of youth with severe depression received consistent treatment. Nearly 60% youth (in 2021) with depression did not receive treatment and according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness 56.3% of adults (in 2019) with depression didn’t receive any treatment. Not only have people not been receiving treatment, but Mental Health America said the depression rate of youth has gone up from 9.2% to 9.7%. Suicidal ideation among adults is also increasing 0.15% which does not seem like a lot until you find out that it is equal to about 460,000 people, and these statistics are just from the United States alone.

Based on Community Reach Center, some common reasons people do not seek therapy is because of distrust of treatment and limited awareness, believing they are fine. This is why when actually seeking treatment, it is always important to look for the most viable resources, both economically and how well the providers give out treatment. So make sure you educate yourself to find the best providers for yourself or others; bad treatment can deter people from getting help. 

But getting help in itself is hard to do and may be scary, because it is a commitment. Therapy is a two way effort between the therapist and the client, so if either the client or the therapist do not do their fair share of work, the client will not get better. The concept of CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) which is used in therapy, applies well with this topic. One example of using CBT is, your thoughts (Therapy will never help me) your feelings (unenthusiastic) your actions (don’t actively try to get better during therapy.) The cycle repeats and then you never get better, I believe that this concept is also similar to that of self fulfilling prophecy.

It is up to all of us as individuals to accept those who are suffering from mental illness by providing proper education and support. It doesn’t have to be something life changing, but simple words like “thank you” or compliments and a hug might help too. It is also important for those of us that are going through a rough time to ask for help and commit to achieving a better mental state. It only takes one person to make or break many lives.