Changing the mentality on mental illnesses

Written by Jennie Alexandros, Staff Writer

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Naturally, humor is extremely therapeutic and helpful for people with mental illnesses. A mental illness is a disorder that affects a person’s way of thinking, mood, or behavior.

A mental illness is not a walk in the park, despite what most people think. It does not only consist of small bursts of anxiety or short periods of sadness but also affects people who suffer with them throughout their entire life. With all of the negative aspects and functionality-affecting symptoms of an actual disorder, people who do not have a mental illness still seem to want the attention that comes with having one, whether it be positive or negative.

Having an eating disorder, depression, or any other mental condition is not glamorous and should not be self-caused because of a need for attention. This is often called romanticizing.

There is a great deal of negative things being romanticized on social media, especially sites like Tumblr. It is very likely for someone to find quotes that contradict treatment methods, toxic ways to feed into an illness, or even pictures and other forms of media that promote negative behaviors.

Another way of romanticizing mental illnesses is found in some Online clothing stores. A common store to find clothing promoting or showing of a mental illness is Etsy. On Etsy, there are shirts with phrases like “I can’t keep calm because I have anxiety” or “Stressed, depressed, but well dressed.” This type of material makes mental illnesses seem beautiful and cool, and that shouldn’t be the case.  A mental illness is similar to having a physical illness: it prevents normal life functionality and can sometimes lead to hospitalization, intense treatment, and even fatality in some situations. If having mental disorders make life much more difficult for people who have a mental illness than for someone that does not have one, why do people want to make it as if they make life much more plentiful and enjoyable?

Along with glamorizing mental illness, a copious amount of people – usually young adults – tend to like making offensive and unacceptable jokes towards a specific mental disorder. For example, one may hear someone say to another, “Kill yourself” or “I’m going to kill myself.” These phrases are sometimes meant to be a joke, but there are people who struggle with suicidal thoughts and intentions.

Also, telling someone that he or she is triggered by something trivial or unreasonable is offensive to those who use that term to describe things that put them into a period of depression. The person may not want to intentionally hurt anybody, but the reality is that people do take it to heart.

So what can you do to ignore or help fight against romanticizing or joking about mental illness at one’s expense? For one thing, if you see a post on social media that promotes or suggests that mental disorders are like a trend everyone should follow, you can either completely avoid it or  express your feelings regarding what that person is saying, and why they should not be advertising it. If you come across merchandise that has anything to do with mental illnesses, do not purchase it or leave a review stating how wrong it is to sell something that puts other people’s feelings and conditions aside. Lastly, if you hear or see someone make a joke or say something that could hurt someone, respectfully speak up and explain why it is not right.

People that suffer with any type of mental illness have to be extremely strong to get through it, just like someone with a physical illness. Encouraging the romanticizing of mental illness does not make it any easier for someone who has one. 

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Changing the mentality on mental illnesses