Fight stigma about mental illness


Mental illness is more common than people think. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, every  year, about 43.6 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. Of these millions of people affected by mental illness, only about half receive treatment. Why is that? According to Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, Associate Editor of Psych Central, one of the biggest reasons is the stigma behind being diagnosed with a mental illness.

In media and film, people with mental illnesses are characterized as being “crazy” and having “multiple personalities,” however, people need to realize that these patients are regular people who have chemical imbalances in their brains and need treatment, just like diabetics need medications to regulate their blood sugars.

According to US clinical psychologist Nikki Massey-Hastings, PsyD, “Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their symptoms because our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues over physical conditions.”

The mental illness has similarly taken a massive toll in Kashmir. More so, over the past three decades.

A report by Medicines Sans Frontiers has found that nearly 1.8 million adults – 45 percent of Kashmir’s adult population – suffer from some form of mental distress. A majority – 93 percent – have experienced conflict-related trauma. An average adult was found to have witnessed around eight traumatic events during his or her lifetime. More than 70 percent of adults have experienced or witnessed the sudden or violent death of someone they knew.

According to the report, 50 percent of women and 37 percent of men are likely to suffer from depression; 36 percent of women and 21 percent of men have a probable anxiety disorder; and 22 percent of women and 18 percent of men suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The report was the third of its kind on mental health carried out by MSF. Thete is thus a need for creating greater awareness about the disease in the society.





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