I wish we would change the term ‘mental illness’ to ‘lack of mental wellness’ so everyone would look at it differently. When someone is ‘iron deficient’ they are lacking iron in their diet, but they are not living with the stigma of ‘iron illness disease’ or ‘insufficient iron illness’.
If someone is mentally ill it is not much different than being physically ill, but the world views both differently. If you see someone with their arm in a cast the immediate reaction is of sympathy, empathy (if you broke your own arm at some time) and the first question you ask is, ”What happened to your arm?” and while they are explaining their injury what are you doing? Signing their cast!
If that same person looked depressed we may ignore them and just wonder “What’s wrong with him today” and may not even talk to him at all.
Right or wrong, people view mental illness differently than physical illness, even in the treatment, if treated at all. It is far easier to hide depression than a broken limb, but they can be equally painful, just not as obvious.
The next time you see someone that you feel is depressed you may say “Would you like to go for a coffee or tea?” or some other soothing words that may help them. Think of it as a mental ‘signing of their cast’ to show your concern for what they may be experiencing in life.
Sometimes when left untreated ‘lack of mental wellness’ can lead to further negative thoughts and actions, sometimes with devastating effects. How many times do we read about someone that died or harmed someone and we pass immediate judgement, only to find later they suffered from a ‘mental illness’ and suddenly that explained their actions. It may not excuse those actions, but understanding the results is often the only way to understand what led up to those actions.
Remember, anyone, anytime can experience depression just as we can become physically sick as well, so how we treat it and how soon we get help for this often determines the outcome. If you or someone you know is experiencing a difficult time ‘sign their mental cast’ and help them find positive solutions as soon as possible.