Discuss your perception of mental illness
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Perceptions, Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviors and Values in Relation to Mental Health and Illness
There's this prevailing misconception if one asks people around. When one says 'Mental illness', one will immediately imagine the straight jackets, the cushioned walls of a mental asylum and generally people throwing violent tantrums. Any kind of mental illness, from the most common, normal and habitable, falls in this category. The fault to blame is mass media and its portrayal of people under mental illness. Stereotype, bias and prejudice arise as murderers and villains are associated with this disease. The idea of mentally ill people as evil, malicious and extreme is easily formed out of this. Immediately, the patients inspire repugnance and disgust that displaces and dehumanizes them.
One may also point the blame to the institutionalizing of mentally ill patients. Society was horrified when some mentally ill criminals emerged and commit the most heinous, disturbing and unspeakable crimes that it decided to contain them in a ward called the mental institution in order to prevent them from causing further violent acts. Because of such shocking crimes reported in the media, the public was easily led to believe that the mentally ill patients are among the most violent people existent. These crimes, while only occurring at a rare and small rate, was enlarged in gigantic epic proportions thanks to being published in Headlines and broadcasted in evening news all over. It became the general belief that the violence will be lessened and removed if the mentally ill patients are all contained in one place so that the public may be protected.
The lack of proper information and the dominance of misleading presentation of the mentally ill have provided a negative portrayal on the concept of mental illness. People who are deemed mentally ill are taken into a collective of unjustified and rejected categorization. This does not only lead to the maltreatment and misperception of these people, they are also subjected to acts that would deliberate isolate and single them out. For instance, some mentally ill patients who have minor symptoms are immediately confined in mental hospitals as this is the general presumption of where mentally ill, indiscriminant of range of severity, should be placed. Sadly, authorities themselves from the medical field to that of the government share the fear and distancing that they should be trying to correct. In the part of the families of the mentally ill, there is an added pressure and doubts to what they can do. With the dominating discrimination on the mentally ill, the patient and their families do not know where and who they can turn to. The general reaction then, is to avoid and push them away (and allow them to worsen in their symptoms) rather reach out to them and help them be better.
It will be difficult for the mentally ill patients to have the proper treatment if the people closest to them would refuse them. Their family for instance plays a significant role in their condition. If the mentally ill patient should be pressured by biases and fears brought by societal perceptions, there will only be suffering. Caring for the mentally ill has brought about negative social interactions, distress and depression. In contrast, the tolerant and accepting treatment and perception of these patients would ultimately lead to an environment welcoming of recovery.
Needless to say, mental institutions, the product of the public's clamor for protection against the mentally ill as they are perceived to be violent, had become a failure in treating this illness. The mainstreaming of the mentally ill as criminals did very little to contribute to this growing phenomenon. It remains true that most of the mentally ill patients are not at all inclined to violence unless they are pressured and pushed to do so which institutions may just bring due to its inhumane treatment. All that has been achieved in the past is that mentally ill patients are victims because they are perceived to be overly difficult, dangerous, fearsome, and incomprehensible. In this time, it is proper to break away from such conventions and started considering what the mentally ill patients really think. It is also time to prepare medical practitioners as to how to confront rather to avoid this increasing problem. Society for this part needs to understand people as part of their own and not any different. With support, there is a large chance for these mentally ill patients to rejoin society and function in this in a manner that will benefit it in the long run.
I am one of the people who have believed fervently that mentally ill people are possibly the most violent and dangerous people around. Informed by the movies, by television, by newspaper headlines and mass media as a whole, I have also spurn a fear and a rejection of mentally ill patients. If I see them in the streets, I immediately go the other way. My perception of them has always been evil heartless individuals who are driven completely and irreconcilably into madness. I always wish that they are all confined forever in institutions. Should a person near me become mentally ill, my prerogative is avoidance at all cost.
However I had soon realized that anyone can actually be inflicted with a mental disease. Friends that I know have been consulting psychiatrists and have been diagnosed as having mental illness despite the fact that I do see them as having normal behavior. Similarly, the media had began to explore the lives and the circumstances of people who are schizophrenic and autistic among others in many manners that shown them to be acceptable and actually sympathetic people. Recently, my cousin had given birth to an autistic child and I realize how very much prevalent mental illness can be. I began to understand what causes these mental illnesses and how natural they are, after all. I began to see mentally ill patients as people like the rest of us. There is always a reason why they are that way and they should not be blamed of their circumstances at all. In fact I have learned that I should understand and reach out to them because they are real good people, ordinary as I am and they need help. By helping them, they can perform regular daily lives and ultimately attain happiness as every human being deserves to have.
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