There comes the point in our lives where we need to unlearn many things we have heard in passing, read and been taught by those closest to us, and this rings true in many parts of our lives but especially when it comes to Mental Health.
“You must unlearn what you have learned.” Yoda
We all have a sense of mental health, how it affects people and how some conditions are treated but do we truly know the ins and outs of such a broad topic?
I would say no. And the reason is that even in 2020, there is still a stigma, be it societal or cultural, attached to mental health conditions.
People still cringe when they hear the word suicide. Depression and anxiety make others uncomfortable, and eyes tend to roll when anyone hears about PTSD. But why?
Miseducation is the first thing that comes to mind. But also perhaps mindset has a lot to do with it too. Despite the overflow of information, resources and government-funded programs, we still don’t consider educating ourselves in an attempt to unlearn a lot of the archaic information we have in our heads, and that is because we think we “know,” but we have no clue. And let me add that educating oneself on Mental Health is not something most people do until it directly affects us or someone we know.
I can say this firmly because I was that person. I wasn’t interested in mental health before my diagnosis. And even when I received my diagnosis, I refused to accept it. Why? Because society would consider me flawed and culturally, there is a dark cloud of shame and unacceptance.
When you are born into a West Indian home, mental health is not discussed or warmly received, despite having a reliable medical diagnosis.
Unfortunately, it’s easier to go through life, ignorant of something that doesn’t affect you. I want everyone to be armedwith the correct information and slowly unlearn the information once taught. I don’t expect everyone to be a mental health advocate. Still, I hope we can receive accurate information, so IF you ever have a conversation about Mental Health with someone who struggles, you have a solid foundation.
Below are some myths and misconceptions about Mental Health taken from the CAMH website and can be the starting point to unlearn and re-educate yourself on what you thought you knew.
Myth #1: People don’t recover from mental Illnesses
Myth #2: Mental Illnesses are an excuse for bad behaviour
Myth #3: Mental Illnesses aren’t real illnesses
Myth #4: Kids can’t have a mental illness, like depression
Myth #5: People with mental illnesses are violent and dangerous
“What Mental Health needs is more sunlight, more candour and more unashamed conversations.” Glenn Close