Hi! I’m Abi, I'm currently studying a masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice. I like to draw animals & wildlife, play video games, and I like reading.
October the 10th is World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’. In this article I’d like to explore the ways in which we can globalise the idea of taking care of our mental health, and the barriers that are currently in place.
Attitudes towards mental health
Having a mental illness is still highly stigmatised in contemporary society despite the decades of avocation from scientists, psychologists and even celebrities. People are often hesitant to seek help for deteriorating mental health due to their own preconceptions of what counselling or therapy is like, and what it means for them within society.
A lot of people from older generations will refuse to seek help due to the attitudes towards those with mental health illnesses when they were growing up. I grew up in the late 90’s and early 00’s, but I even remember the derogatory language used to describe people who had a mental health disorder on TV, in magazines and on the internet when it became more prevalent.
To achieve the aim presented for World Mental Health Day we need to teach the younger and older generations about the types of mental illnesses, their presentations, and how most people who suffer with a mental illness are not dangerous despite the stereotypes. This can start with better mental health education in schools, including educating teachers on recognising the early signs of certain disorders.
Research into mental health
The research into mental health that we know and follow today has been developed in recent history, for example we can assume that mental illnesses have existed for as long as humans have, however modern research into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder only began in the nineteenth century.
People in heavily religious areas of the world sometimes find themselves banished and cast out from their families and communities due to their poor mental health. This is widely due to the misinformation about the correlation between mental illnesses and possession or satanism. Some religious people may believe that the presentation of a mental illness is due to the person being possessed by the devil, and their fear of this can cause them to banish their child or loved one.
More scientific research and evidence into mental illnesses could improve the view of those affected by those with a negative perception due to religion.
It is worth noting that many religious people do not take these views on those with mental illnesses, and charities such as Samaritans support mentally unwell persons.
One of the best ways we can increase mental wellbeing globally is by showing compassion for others. This could be compassion for people who have a mental illness and showing them support when they need it, or being compassionate to those who don’t understand contemporary research into mental illness and trying to educate them. We cannot make the world a better place with anger and hatred, compassion and support are two of the main qualities we need to create a nurturing and happy world.