Looking Back at Where We Have Come From and Where We Need to Go
Mental illness and physical illness can’t be looked the same way. By their very nature, they are just different ailments. This doesn’t mean that one of them is more important or valid than the other, but realizing this does a lot to understand how their differences have affected the ways our society has viewed them, and furthermore, how we can better understand the ways we can cope. A lot of the stigma around mental illness is due to miscategorizing mental illness as a physical illness. Whether it’s because we use the word “illness” or some other reason, there is a tendency to group the two together, and as a result, incorrectly treat the symptoms. We have begun to see mental illness as a separate affliction and have made significant strides in normalizing it while offering the proper treatments. While there is still work to be done, it is good to recognize the progress we as a society have made.
The words “mental illness” no longer carry the same amount of shame that they used to. Before, it was associated with severe cases of psychiatric disability, where the illness present was so severe that it was completely debilitating. Research has proven that focusing on mental health is common around the world, and has helped show that we don’t have to fear it like we once did. In this normalization, we have also begun to appreciate how language and certain wording can affect things. We are more open to “trigger warnings” and understanding how certain people have different responses to certain words. We have learned to respect those triggers for people and have become more aware of how what we say can affect those around us. We are learning that our world and perceptions of the world are not universal, and that people have different experiences and those different experiences deserve to be respected just as much as our own. Even our government has begun to see mental illness as a greater issue. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is just one piece of legislation that has helped put mental illness on the same level as physical illness, giving it much more recognition.
However, there is still work to be done. First off, even though things have progressed, there are still many people who do not view mental illness as worthy of being treated, or even real. Unfortunately, the government hasn’t done a lot to help these stigmas and have made mental health a back burner issue. Mental illness still isn’t normalized the same way that physical illness is, further adding to these beliefs. We have made progress but there is still a gap between the two. Furthermore, even with the legislation that we have seen to help out those suffering from mental illness, there has still been some undermining of that progress in the form of people seeking help not being able to receive it. We have seen insurance companies deny coverage for treatment, creating a situation where treatment is not affordable for those who need it. Finally, our prevention of mental illness isn’t great. The way society operates, from living costs rising to medication being so unaffordable lends itself to higher risks of mental illness. We are at a point where we wait until these illnesses have already formed and then we treat, instead of working to prevent them in the first place.
Despite these negatives, we can still recognize our progress and the steps we are making. It is not a losing cause; progress is being made. We have come so far from where we used to be, and that deserves some appreciation and celebration. We can take the time to look back and reflect on this. We are all apart of this movement that is changing the world, and that is pretty remarkable.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528 or [email protected]