Over the years, we as a society, have gotten better about being sensitive towards others who are different from us. We come up with politically correct words, teach kids (and others) to have compassion and empathy for others, and educate ourselves about these differences (as to not misunderstand or fear them). Mental illness, unfortunately, seems to be part of the final frontier of understanding. Maybe since people with mental illness are dismissed as “crazy,” their feelings are dismissed as well. The topic is also very much not talked about, especially in communities of color. In an effort to make it safe to talk about, get diagnosed, and treat, here is how we can stop joking about, making light of, and stigmatizing certain mental illnesses.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, with over 40 million adults affected. This includes Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)—which I’ll talk more about later—and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With such a high precedence of anxiety in this country, it leads me to think there needs to be a change with the amount of things we try to squeeze into our day, what is realistically expected of us, and how we often neglect our own self-care. Instead of judging people who are anxious, and labeling them as weird, anti-social, or nerds, try to see how you can understand them, and help make their lives more manageable.