#MHAW16 - Mental Health Prejudices

I'm noticing a lot that when I talk about mental health, I talk about those kinds of illnesses that aren't immediately distinguishable. The reason for this mainly is because that's where my experience lies. I'd rather not make assumptions or assertions about people whose experiences I know nothing about. I know how frustrating that can be for me, so I'd rather not treat people in the same way. Imagine me writing out long, ignorant spiels on Autism or Schizophrenia with half-read, half-heard knowledge. I feel like it would be a disservice more than anything.


Still, I think it should be said that when we talk about mental health awareness we are not just talking about depression and anxiety in young adults, not to invalidate those illnesses or those people at all since I'm one of them.  We're talking about depression that people with physical disabilities often go through, children and elderly people with mental health issues that need help getting treatment. People who live within cultures where you're taught to just "get over it" or "snap out of it" but they can't, they honestly can't. We're talking about Dementia, as it's also Dementia Awareness week this week.


We need to show the love and acceptance we give to those who suffer silently to people with physical and or verbal ticks that they cannot control. We need to actually acknowledge the severity of OCD and stop equating people who have to wash their hands until they rub their skin off to people that need to keep things neat. We need to listen to and acknowledge people who hallucinate, people who have underdeveloped motor skills or verbal communication difficulties, and people who have to be under constant care.


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'Subsumed' by Zander Campbell via Flickr

We need to extend love and empathy  talking to the people who might frighten some of us when we see them out and about, the people that might cause us to stare, or turn our heads away, or dismiss as "mental" or "batshit".

Not because we hate them, I know I don't, but because we often fear the things we don't understand.

It would be a good idea for us to try, however, to read and learn and grow more as people. If we attempt to learn more than just what we can contribute to the conversation we can, in turn, grow and enrich the conversation, make it more productive. That, and inviting those people who don't feel like their mental illness is the "right type" or the type that is relevant to the discussion is even more important. First-hand experiences are the best ways for us to learn and make changes.

The conversation about mental health is still in its infancy, and I'm sure my rhetoric has a lot of growing up to do. I want to be more inclusive in my thinking, and I'm trying to be so here and onwards.

As a next step, I invite all of us reading to take the time to do some learning. I've gained a LOT of insight from a series of videos on Psychology from the educational YouTube channel Crash Course, so I have a link to the playlist below. If you have any more resources, please do let me know.


Jacqueline Atta-Hayford