How Mental Health is Still Socially Constructed as a Red Flag.

Mental illness is so much more than an excuse to define our emotional and psychological issues. It is a highly serious matter, which affects 1/5 and continues to persist as a vital social and medical issues. In an article from the Vancouver Province, it states that “mental illnesses are medical illnesses that cause measurable changes in brain structure and function, and have a massive negative impact on physical health.”

While this is an accurate description of what mental health can look like, it targets our social issue of embracing mental health so that it can be accepted as an important cause.

So many people who struggle with mental health are doing so alone and in the dark. They are living in the shadows. The rate for undiagnosed mental health patients is high. Much more are turning to harmful drugs in order to cope with the symptoms as it has been outlined that the mental health crisis is linked to the Fentanyl scourge.

We want to think we’ve made progress when we have made baby steps. This issue is still very much in the closet. People are still mixed up when they hear about mental health issues.

For example, I know a girl that before dating a guy, everyone in her community warned her that he had mental health issues. It seemed this was a red flag, a handicap and so many people would steer away because why exactly?

People with mental health issues can’t be dated? They can't be doing well and experience love?Though this girl had mental health herself and wasn’t prepared to judge him off of that, it made her wonder of all the people who would, and what people might say about her. It was dumbfounding to see that so many people would still use mental health issues against someone. That being mentally ill could never be seen as a plus sign in society's eyes.

 I hated the idea how this poor guy’s tragedy with mental health had become everyone else's gossip. This guy instantly became a poor candidate (to them), so why would he be open about his mental health issues? Why would he ever embrace them? Knowing that people still talked that way about him, knowing that it was a hard experience to escape and that he had been labeled within our community. Though it wasn’t fair, everyone went through stuff and everyone deserved second chances. No one deserved to have their past hang over them like that. 


People claim to be supportive and show understanding, but it doesn’t mean they would welcome mental health in their home or in their hearts. Some people simply can’t deal with it and continue to live uneducated about the matter, in denial about the subject. Certain people will avoid negativity and issues of all kind, and that is their choice if they decide to discriminate against a disease you have in your brain, and they refuse to understand that what you go through is medical, then you probably don't need those people in your life.

People with mental health issues want all the same things that other people do. They may have to work harder, but nothing isn’t in their reach. As I say, "mental health means that you will have to work a little bit harder than everyone else"--but it doesn't mean that you can't do it. Treating mentally ill people as capable individuals and treating them no different would benefit society because, in so many ways, they will be able to relate to you, they are a lot like you, they just have challenges. 

You have to keep in mind that many mentally ill people are emotionally deregulated and sometimes you will have to step in and be the logic and be the wiser and take yourself out of the situation. Sometimes you will have to decide when not to react, especially if you think that person might be showing sick symptoms, you know it's not sincere, so why entertain it?

 The mentally ill person is merely experiencing the biological symptom of their sickness, and yes a lot of things can trigger it, but if you are effective and the person is aware of their health issues, it can be defused quickly. Trying to talk to them, and talk through it with them can be very useful because more than likely it is a misunderstanding or a miscommunication of some kind. 

People do turn their lives around regardless of the hurdles they’ve been given. Sometimes the hurdles motivate them even more upon their path. This starts with acceptance, accepting that you have some form of illness and that you are going to work at it every day. The second part is seeking the proper treatment. If you take care of yourself and follow your treatment plan, you can live a much better, more beneficial and prosperous life. The third is having a strong support system. People who know about your illness and that you can talk to honestly. People who can reach out to when you are in trouble. 

Things and people will always get in the way of recovery. People won’t re-trust you, people will think you are not acceptable (but you are), people will think you’re not capable. There is always the chance that people might not understand our situation, but we need to focus on the people who do. Along the journey, you will have knocked over a few cans, but that's okay, but there's plenty more for you to hold up. 

The reality is that not everyone understands mental illness and that’s a sad, unfortunate reality, but it’s one we have to radically accept. This means we don’t have to like it or love it, but we do have to accept it. Some things take longer to change, and some things never change at all. All we can do is work with the change we wish to see in ourselves and in the world. Rely on people who are on your side and fighting for you to win the battle because their support will make the rejection insignificant. 

You will encounter people who say things like, “you are hiding behind your illness”, but you have to let those people go immediately. They don’t understand the magnitude of what you are experiencing and it’s not your job to teach them. Potentially let them know that they have no idea what it is like, and they are in no position to judge but don't waste your energy when it's clear how much knowledge they have in the matter.

It’s so much easier to look around than it is to look within because when you do this you realize that you are in no position to coin someone’s pain. You can’t speak knowingly about something which you have never remotely experienced. This is what I like to call: pure ignorance. A perfect example of what is wrong with this world and why issues like mental health aren't brought to the forefront. 

You will have people who don’t understand your impulsive actions and will want nothing to do with you. People won’t care that you weren’t in the right frame of mind. They will see the action and judge it. They may become scared, turned off and disassociated. People say they don’t judge, but it is their nature to. People will forgive you, but never forget the times that you couldn’t rise to the occasion and they won’t always give you a second chance.

People will protect you and conceal you from what they feel you can’t handle like you’ll fall apart at any minute. They talk about you, but never talk to you and never express their concerns to your face. Everything is in secret because people don’t want to rock the boat, which is unfair. How do you expect people to get better if you don’t share with them what they need to work on? It seems simple, and highlighting self-awareness is a really good place to start. People can’t change what they don’t think is a problem. They have to come to the realization that they need help.


The truth is people don’t often give these second chances. We are so inclined to throw people away. Label someone as “toxic” and then get rid of them. When people are suffering, they are hurting and they are struggling. They can’t always predict how they are going to be on a certain day. If they are flaky or showing signs of mistrust or being a bad friend, it’s because they can’t even be a friend to themselves right now. It’s not personal, and it's hard not to take it that way, but when you are dealing with a sick person you have to consider that there are times when they are doing better than others. Don’t give up on your friend or family member just because they aren’t in a good place. Recognize it’s not the real them and do what you can to help them. Be there for them and support them to the best that you know how.

While it's annoying for you to deal with, imagine how it must feel for the person going through it? Imagine the embarrassment they must feel? It’s not easy. Having to endure those bad moments and encouraging yourself to pick yourself back up again. Generally, nobody is ever trying to bring someone down or be a bother. Keep in mind it's probably something that person can’t control. Treat their illness like you would any other.

Mental illness has huge implications on physical health and can create situations that are not sincere to the person because they are in an episode or feeling off. Be mindful of others, and try not to steer away or judge. Remind yourself something bigger is likely going on and that person needs help. Do what you can to get them the help and show sensitivity to mental health. Like any illness, this person might be in an off state right now, but they can get better, and they can get on a steady treatment plan that can really work for them.

Talking about mental illness isn’t easy, but it would be made much easier if people were more receptive to it, and educated about how they can help the cause. The biggest thing is simply trying to listen, trying to help, trying to be there for that person and point that person towards the right resources. Don’t let stigma affect the fact that this is a very important issue within our society, that is taking lives and causing massive drug addiction.

We need to be vocal about what we go through, have our voices heard and educate the population on what mental health is really about. If we don’t, the problem is only going to implode, and we will continue to lose more people.