According to WHO, mental illnesses affect one in four people today. Despite this terrifying statistics, it seems that the general public still tend to take physical diseases more seriously than mental illnesses. The possible reason may be that we can actually see the wounds or symptoms of physical diseases, while for mental illness, things can be elusive at times. But, just because everything seems to be fine on the surface, it doesn’t mean that the sufferers of mental illnesses aren’t going through a great amount of pain. Keep in mind that mental illnesses can happen to anyone, no matter how optimistic or joyful they look.
Mental illness mistreatment
One of the most widely spread misconceptions about people suffering from mental illnesses is that they lack the willpower to overcome their problems. This is as inconsiderate as telling the person who is on life support to get up, as is brilliantly portrayed in the comic Helpful advice by Robot Hugs.
By giving advice based on wrong assumptions, we are actually doing more harm than good. It makes the people suffering from mental illness to feel no one understands their struggle. So, in order to not seem too dramatic, or be a burden to their closest ones, they tend to withdraw even more and suffer in silence.
Another common wrong preconception about mental illnesses is that they manifest themselves in the same known way and that all sufferers behave in a socially unacceptable way and are completely dysfunctional. With many high functional types of the diseases, it is becoming even more difficult for family members, partners, co-workers and friends to recognize any symptoms, which lessens the chances for proper and timely treatment.
How we can offer help
Now, that we have new insights about the diseases, we should seek new ways to help the distressed. Scientists are proving that isolated mental facilities are not increasing chances for recovery, which gives smaller communities a chance to help in prevention and treatment alike.
This means that families and people closest to the patient can now have a major role in the recovery process. We should take the time to truly understand a person’s challenges without any assumptions and talk to them in a loving and compassionate manner, making them feel safe and supported. Professional help is required in most cases, yet the support a patient gets from family and friends along with the therapy is crucial for the recovery. It is also extremely important to make them feel a part of the team/family/community by including them in activities of their choice.