Modern societal values emphasize greatly the importance of independence in all its facets: financial, social, and emotional to name a few. Amidst the daily grind to exceed unrealistic personal and professional goals, social media is right at the front of this rat race, pulling almost everyone into its artificial allure.
Although both social media and the will to be independent have their merits, the underlying theatricalities of the internet and implicit assumptions of our cultural philosophies can greatly threaten the mental health of individuals all over the world.
However, these are not the only reasons behind the alarming increase in mental illnesses in recent times. These do, however, assist us in understanding the stigma around mental health and why today, despite millions suffering from mental illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to depression globally, discussions and treatment of mental health-related issues are still considered taboo.
Why Do People with Mental Illnesses Not Seek Professional Advice?
When it comes to mental disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, the symptoms may be ambiguous but they are very obvious. Anyone with no professional background can tell that something is up.
However, disorders like anxiety and depression are difficult to self-diagnose. Most often than not, clinical depression is bypassed as mood swings which most people tend to refer to as a “phase”. ‘Oh he/she is going through a phase’ is a sentence we have all heard. Children struggling with their mental health issues get scolded for being unproductive and lazy. Adults on the other hand get labeled as attention seekers. These things may seem petty, but these are all part of a bigger picture that stigmatizes mental illnesses.
Not only does it make it difficult for people to open up about their struggles, but it also makes it almost impossible for them to accept it to themselves. Denial about their deteriorating condition even to themselves is evidence of how societal pressure restricts us from getting the help we need. A 2014 Study in the Journal of Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine stated that one of the major reasons why people choose not to seek professional help if they are struggling with a mental disorder is the stigma around it.
Most often than not, most people prefer to rely on themselves. This can be for a number of reasons. The most obvious one that comes to mind is the fear of exposure and the awkwardness that comes with it. Sharing details that are difficult to formulate and articulating feelings especially for someone struggling with a mental disorder can be quite daunting.
Recall the two reasons for the increase in mental health issues mentioned before. A struggle for independence and social media. Somehow, it has been ingrained in our minds that seeking help makes us weak. Especially young adults who are overwhelmed with their changing bodies and environment consider it as a sign of weakness.
According to one of the prominent ABA Therapists in Chicago, “Watching the world through a keyhole in this digital age of mobile phones, we have succumbed to its many flaws. Trying to recreate things for ourselves that are not even real and running after that goal has damaged the mental peace of everyone.”
Taking upon impractical goals, failing at them (because they are impractical), feeling bad about ourselves, losing sleep over it, procrastinating, getting behind on work as a result, and feeling bad again without being able to do anything about it. It is a vicious cycle that mostly ends people up with a hopeless, miserable life and prescription for Xanax in their late forties.
Why is it Important for People to Seek Professional Advice for Mental Health?
Improved Quality of Life
For people with mental illnesses of a severe nature like ADHD or personality disorders, treatment is a must. It helps them coexist and perform daily activities with greater productivity.
However, issues like PTSD and depression have higher chances of improvement through therapy and oral treatment if necessary.
Dragging yourself to that first therapy session may be intimidating. You may feel hopeless. But imagine being free of all your symptoms. If not all, some. You will be a happier, more content person who has a greater understanding of your emotions and how to tackle them.
Your mood directly affects the people surrounding you. Your suffering and happiness are directly related to their suffering and happiness. If you will be a happier person, so will the people around you. You will have a greater motivation to invest in relationships and sympathize with others going through something similar to your struggles.
Worsened Mental Health
Imagine having a sprained ankle and walking on it for days. It is bound to get worse. Addressing a problem at an early stage helps nip it in the bud. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to break habits and patterns. Not to mention the fact that the person suffering either become rebellious or hopeless after suffering for so long without undergoing treatment.
Delaying seeking help may also lead to secondary problems for example untreated depression may lead to strokes and coronary heart diseases. Most people with untreated depression suffer from insomnia.
The social implications of untreated mental disorders are also very high. For people with severe symptoms, it will be very difficult to integrate into society and blend in. They cannot do well in schools and workplaces because of their uncontrolled mental disorder. People with disorders like anxiety and depression may lean towards substance abuse.
The last resort for such people is suicide. According to medcape.com, about half of the people who commit suicide suffer from depression.
Reduced Risk for Medical Complications
Untreated mental illness generally affects the immune system adversely. Additionally, it can increase the chances of heart diseases and ulcers.
Breaking the Stigma
It is always a burdensome task for those who take an initiative. But, if you are one of those people, you can motivate so many others suffering silence to seek the help they need. Seeking help unabashedly and breaking the stigma around mental health is the only way you can help yourself and indirectly, many others still bound in societal shackles.