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Mental Health New York City

Mental Illness Is Not a Personal Failure


Picture a man talking to himself and gesturing to invisible objects as you walk down the busy streets. He is dressed neatly and looks like an ordinary businessman, except for the fact that he is having hallucinations. Now, picture another man who is dressed rather sloppily but minding his own business, perhaps humming a simple tune. Who would you choose to engage in a conversation with? Most people would choose the latter man. Why? In short, because the former appears to have a mental illness.

Mental health is a seriously neglected issue that needs more emphasis. The stunning amount of suicides or homicides that have occurred are often due to mental health illnesses left untreated. Mental illness encompasses more than simply a disorder of the brain; it involves changes in thinking, mood, or behavior that are not necessarily caused by the victims themselves. There are countless factors that determine whether or not someone will develop a mental illness, and this is what a majority of the world’s population is unaware of. Because of a lack of knowledge of mental illnesses, there is a negative stigma associated with people who suffer from them. Many people choose to not associate with those who are mentally ill because of a false notion of what it means to be “normal.” Not only is it completely unfair to ignore them, but it is also emotionally damaging. In fact, it has been found that mentally ill people are ten times more likely to end up in jail than in a hospital, an astoundingly ironic statistic.

Mentally ill people are ten times more likely to end up in jail than in a hospital.

Why is it that about 1 in 5 adults in the country experience mental illness in a given year, yet approximately 50 percent of those with mental illness are left untreated? As Jennifer Lawrence once commented, people are unwilling to receive treatment for mental health conditions compared to physical illnesses because of the discrimination they face for being psychiatric patients. Whereas people who walk out of a hospital with a cast wrapped around their arm receive sympathy, people who walk out of a psychiatric center receive indifference. The stark contrast in how the mentally ill are regarded is what discourages them from recognizing that they have a disorder.


Mental Health Matters NYC

In addition to the shame they feel, they do not receive the necessary resources for care. The government does not provide sufficient funding for mental health research and treatment. While those with physical ailments are allowed to receive treatment for an extended period of time, those with mental illnesses are not financially covered when it comes to how much treatment they receive. As a result, the mentally ill are left to cope with their situation by themselves. The message that the government sends to the public is, essentially, that the mentally ill are not deserving of much investment.

The system does not have to be this way nor should mental illness be condemned. May has been established as mental health awareness month, and while more focus has been placed on raising awareness of what it is, there are ways in which we can each help as individuals. For instance, when we encounter someone who has a mental illness, instead of isolating them, we should include them. When we see an ordinary businessman having hallucinations, we can offer to help him cope with his delusions by seeking treatment instead of refusing to acknowledge him because of his strange behavior. When others intimidate the mentally ill, we should not tolerate such actions and we must stand up for the targets of such prejudice. Little by little, we will instigate change in how mental illness is perceived.

On a larger scale, the government’s actions greatly affect how the mentally ill are treated. For example, the government can provide patients with the necessary coverage for sufficient care. Insurance is vital to the mental health crisis, and until there are adequate resources available, the population of mentally ill will continue to grow. As the population grows, it is inevitable that more untreated cases will result in more suicides, school dropouts, and instability in the country if we do not erase the stigma and put an end to alienation, and if the government does not bridge the gap.

Mental illness does not equate to personal failure.

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