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Mental illness: social or personal concern?

Readers tell us how to handle this growing issue

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Gulf News

Should mental illness be a bigger social concern? Or is it more of a personal problem? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people will be affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives.

By 2030, depression could be a leading illness around the world, if no action is taken. So, how can society best handle the growing issue of mental illness? How does stigma affect patients? Do we all have a part to play to help? Readers discuss.


Lack of knowledge is root cause of disharmony

Sushma Shenoy

I truly believe that a lack of awareness around mental illnesses is the root cause of all disharmonies and challenges that we face as a society. Perpetuating the stigma around diagnosing and treating mental illness issues will only breed more sociopathic criminals, abusive behavior, ignorance, hate and people suffering from depression and anxiety.

Starting from a young age, children must be taught by parents and teachers on how to cultivate self-awareness and develop healthy ways of thinking and managing their emotions.

People who are currently facing some form of mental illness should be convinced that there is nothing shameful about getting the help that they need from trusted professionals. It doesn’t make them ‘crazy’ or ‘messed up’, but human and vulnerable.

As a society, we really need to take this seriously as the world gets more competitive, complex and challenging with every single day. Everyone deserves to live a fulfilling life and be given the chance to live their highest potential and they can only do so once they address the internal blocks that are getting in the way.

As a society, we can take measures such as introducing self-development and wellness workshops in schools, key organizations and business corporations. Of course, raising awareness through mainstream media such as social media, press and TV is essential. It is through a collective efforts that we can create major shifts in the way we view and treat mental illnesses.

Ms Sushma Shenoy, Business owner, based in Dubai


We should treat mental illness like physical illness

Nenette T. Medenilla

Every country is so focused on innovation for medical health, from oncology to dentistry. However, society often neglects mental health, which has a vital role in every human being.

Mental illness is 100% the same as physical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. In both instances, patients need medicine and regular check-ups with physicians so they can live normal lives.

Hence, we must educate not only our family circle, but all the people we know, that “mental illness” is not a hindrance to this world.The most important phase in dealing with mental disorders is support from family. As we all know, “family comes first.”

The full support and acceptance from families and friends plays a vital role for the patient’s treatment.

We must fully understand that there is a chemical imbalance in their bodies that affects their moods, way of thinking, and behavior. Acceptance must come from us, and in order for us to understand the weight of it, the families must have a heart-to-heart talk with the doctors, because they can professionally guide us on how and in what way we can help those suffering from mental illness.

Social media can also play a major role in promoting the awareness and show that mental illness is not something to be scared of or to hide from the world. Patients are like us, normal yet delicate. They needs our support, understanding and love. Let’s not forget that even famous persons have suffered from mental issues, but have contributed in the fields of art, business and even in politics.

Ms Nenette T. Medenilla, Executive assistant, based in Dubai


Community support is a big part of a person’s treatment

Krishnakumari Venkat

Mental illness is an issue which sends distress signals to the entire world through families and society. When a human being has his emotions under control, he is treated at par with the rest of us, whereas when the emotions are blown out of proportion, then he is called or termed as ‘crazy’, ‘retarded’ or ‘sick’. The world sees those with mental illness through unkind eyes.

Every emotion is related to our heart and mind. If these kind of personal feelings of anger, depression, insecurity feelings are not checked at right time, it can lead to worsening mental illness, which means it is a concern for not only the family but also for the society.

The cause and also the remedy is found right from our home, but extend to the community as well.

Society should be kind enough and aware enough to identify such people and treat them with due respect, like a person who is getting treated for physical illness.

Therefore, people who are mentally ill should not be isolated from society. They should be taken care of physically and more kindly. The community around them should be informed about the dos and don’ts to help facilitate a quicker recovery of these individuals.

Additionally, more help can be sought through medical institutions. After undergoing treatment, those with mental problems should be given opportunities to show the changes in themselves and contribute to society, rather shun them permanently.

There are and should be many personal awareness and wellness programs conducted in educational institutions, offices and also in the neighborhoods which educate people about physical and mind-related issues, as well as the treatment for a better life. The best way to deal the mental illness is to embrace humanity and tolerance which gives peace to the world.

Ms Krishnakumari Venkat, Homemaker, based in Dubai


Social isolation caused by prejudice is a big problem too, and can make matters worse

Girish R Edathitta

The best way to deal with the problem of mental illness is awareness among patients and the rest of the people in society, but at different levels. Though mental disorders are personal, society can cause harmful effects on affected individuals. Persons with mental disorders face social stigma, as society considers them to be “abnormal”, even after being cured. So people with mental disorders have to suffer multiple problems: one, the direct consequences of the disorder and the other, isolation from society. This forces many to conceal their problems and deter them from seeking medical aid, which will result in disastrous consequences. Example, I read a story about a son who murdered his mother in Fujairah, and I knew automatically he was schizophrenic because he stated that for a very long time he was seeing his mother as a demon. Why was he not receiving any help? These illusions are risky and can cause harm to oneself and others. You cannot ignore such matters!

Medical treatment might be able to cure mental disorders, but how can we mitigate the effect of social isolation? Sometime mere sharing of worries with trustworthy persons can deliver big relief, but everybody is busy and finding a trusted person is also a difficult task. Mere medication cannot bring back the mentally ill person back in to normal life. They need the full support of society. The current system in our society is averse to the idea of having a similar level of engagement with a person who once suffered mental illness. Unlike many other illness, mental disorders are not communicable. Yet healthy persons are hesitant to interact with them. The discrimination and social stigma associated with metal disorders force many, even after treatment, to withdraw from normal activities for rest of their life. 

People with mental illnesses should not be isolated; they should be treated. These people are still part of the society. In order to make them effective members, they need help. Social media is a great way to start raising awareness. Those with mental illness just want a chance to live a normal life and be accepted into the community.

From Mr Girish R Edathitta, Employee Relations Officer (ERO), based in Dubai