It’s clear, mental disease is a stigma that will never fade. It isn’t tangible; it’s a mystery that cannot be solved in the minds of most Americans. Every time a horrific crime is committed by someone with a mental disease we automatically connect mental problems with the act. It is true, mental disorders cause people to do, at the very least strange, and at the extreme, horrible things. Is this why we segregate people with cancer from those with bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia? Or is it something deeper?
I can’t be the only one who notices the meteoric rise in major media when something happens related to mental disease, such as celebrity suicide or mass killing, and the effort to begin a new dialogue about mental health afterwards, only to have it wiped away days later by, I don’t know, say, an ice bucket challenge that is more fun, uplifting, and popular. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with fighting against ALS or any other disease. But how do the Twitter, Facebook, and major media feeds poor out so much heartfelt emotion about Robin Williams and the awareness of his disease, yet this fun little ice bucket challenge overcomes the headlines in a matter of days. A little off topic.
But look I get it, what’s hot and popular today, right? There is nothing fun or popular about mental disease… If anything it is a scary and mysterious concept that requires extreme ‘othering’ to cope with. Not me! I don’t have any mental problems. That is them, the others, and they are crazy. The human mind can’t deal with the remote idea of it being… sick. At the end of the day, the human mind is ego. It needs to feel special and unique; it needs to feel as though it is important and invincible.
I tend to believe raising millions for a disease can only help so much. For example, we know what causes most cancers, how to catch most of them early, and we even how to prevent them in many instances, yet we raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year for research, still? I think it is far too easy for companies to exploit the hearts and intentions of people in the names of these diseases and turn it into a popular and trendy thing. But that is a whole different topic.
I want to get to the heart of the matter. What causes us, as a society, to care so much and feel so concerned about mental health when it becomes something we can understand, like a celebrity we love, to then turn our heads and wait for the next occurrence?
Ask yourself… what am I truly scared of? When I ask myself this question, the answer is clear. I don’t want to experience mental illness. The idea of my own mind being gravely sick is the scariest thing I can think of. I don’t know what we do to fight this, but I think an ice bucket challenge for mental health might have been a good start. Instead of ignoring and covering up a major underlying problem in American culture, we should all take a simple stand and say, “Hey, I know this is the same thing as Cancer or ALS and I want to show my support and compassion to those who suffer.”
Just an idea.