October 10 is Mental Health Day, a day intended to increase awareness of mental health. It encourages people to have open discussion and to advocate for support like funding in programs aimed at prevention and treatment to improve the lives of people living with mental disorders. The theme for 2012 is Depression: A Global Crisis. According to the World Health Organization, "Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment."
People who have physical illness or disability get sympathy and support from family, friends and the community at large; people with mental disorders, however, are more likely to receive comments like 'just get over it' or worse, be avoided by people who don't understand what it means.
During my university studies, I worked for several summers at a facility for the treatment and care of people with mental health or addiction challenges. Many of them spoke of their fear of telling anyone about their mental health concerns, making it more difficult to get much needed support or treatment with the result that their suffering was more severe or longer than necessary.
If you or anyone that you know suffers from mental illness, tell the stories of your experiences. Help change the perception and get rid of the stigmas of mental health disorders.
Some shared storiesMore than 100 people participated in a World Mental Health Day blog party, sharing their stories. Click on the image to read those stories.
Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds.
Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.
Elyn Saks: Seeing mental illness
Portray [people with mental illness] sympathetically, and portray them in all the richness and depth of their experience as people, and not as diagnoses.
Joshua Walters: On being just crazy enough
Maybe no one’s really crazy. Everyone is just a little bit mad. How much depends on where you fall in the spectrum. How much depends on how lucky you are.
Ruby Wax: What's so funny about mental illness?
People who say … they're perfectly fine [are] more insane than the rest of us.