Why Communicating About Mental Illness Can Be Difficult

People can be extremely hesitant to bring up the topic of mental illness. Sometimes this reticence has to do with their unfamiliarity with the illness itself, but most of the time, this difficulty talking about mental illness comes from the old cultural habit of avoiding the subject. There is also misinformation about what a person with mental illness looks like.

Some might have the stereotypical figure of a schizophrenic person in their head, while others view individuals who suffer from mental illness as objects of tragedy. If someone does share their story of overcoming the pitfalls of their mental illness, they are championed and held in high regard; while this positivity is good, not all people with mental illness fit that narrative. And, when people fail to fit into that narrative box, people can sometimes view the individual as a failure.

For example, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why depicts a teenager’s descent into depression that ultimately culminates in suicide. Those who have viewed the series and who have never experienced depression themselves expected her to fit the tragic typecast of a depressed person who’s sympathetic enough to want to help. The main character is vindictive and unlikable—much like a real-life person. Instead of perpetuating the stereotype of a tragic figure, the show depicts the main character as a real person with real problems.

While mental illness affects many people, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Some people become irritable, distant, unreasonable, and angry. Not all individuals who suffer from a mental illness are easy to be around. This behavior can make it difficult to sympathize with the person struggling, but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve sympathy anyway.

Not all people understand what it’s like to struggle with a mental illness. To prevent further stigmatizing which dismisses a broad spectrum of ways mental illness can affect people, people should try to be more compassionate, more supportive, and encourage recovery.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a mental illness, talk to our staff at Therapeutic Solutions. Our clinic believes a multi-disciplinary approach is the best way to provide quality care to our patients. The Chico behavioral health psychiatrists at the center, in addition to the rest of our staff, are knowledgeable, compassionate, and skilled in the most effective psychotherapeutic techniques available. Let us see how we can best meet your needs.

Schedule an appointment by calling (530) 899-3150 or filling out our online form today, or refer a patient here.