Psychological illness may not be as apparent as physical disabilities or diseases. Nevertheless, it is just as disabling in its own way. Society, however, is more accepting of those with physical than psychological illnesses or disabilities, the latter being regarded as a taboo subject sometimes.
Individuals need both their bodies and minds to achieve equilibrium in life and to fulfill their everyday activities. However, physical health is sometimes given more importance than mental health by individuals and societies. There are many reasons why the acceptance of psychological illness has not attained broader acceptance in society.
Identifying mental health issues
First of all, mental illness is not always visible and even measurable, thus making it difficult for ordinary people to differentiate between a healthy and a sick individual. Physical illness, on the other hand, usually comes with more identification signs and sometimes disabilities. This helps others to be empathetic towards people with physical ailments.
Old is not always gold
Additionally, the research and development to understand and identify psychological illness gained momentum only in the 19th Century. Before that, people with mental health issues were often either not correctly diagnosed or were subjected to inhumane and questionable treatments like electric shocks or tying them with chains. This resulted in two-fold regression, both at a societal level, due to lack of knowledge, and at the individual level, due to the stigma attached to it.
Furthermore, the patients with psychological issues often find it hard to adjust to society and often fear rebuke from the workplace or family if they disclose their conditions. This, in turn, leads to a vicious circle of misinformation, lack of treatment, public episodes of that illness, which fuels more misinformation.
It has been a challenging time with the emergence and prevalence of COVID-19, and we have faced significant uncertainty and enormous shifts in our physical and mental health. Living through this pandemic and the stress attached to it is exceptional and incomprehensible to anything we have seen or witnessed. The pandemic highlighted how crucial taking care of our mental health is.
In sections of society where talking about mental health is still taboo, more efforts should be made to spread awareness. The government can run compelling awareness campaigns through various media outlets. The power of social media should also be considered while making such decisions. Psychological health assessment and treatment centers’ wide availability will ensure that psychological health does not remain an off-bound topic.
There have been tremendous changes in the field of mental health awareness in the past few decades, and with the right mindset and motivation, knowledge and access to mental health resources can reach far and beyond.