Thrive Column: Myth of Mental Health
As Halloween approaches, Thrive’s mental health care providers would like to remind community members that mental illness should not be used as a Halloween costume.
Maybe your days of taking the kids out for treats are over, or maybe you’re someone who doesn’t keep Halloween, then you might not realize it’s even a big deal. I mean, it’s just harmless fun, right? Disguise yourself as “crazy?” “
In our view, shedding light on mental illness is problematic because it reinforces the stigma surrounding mental illness.
If you’ve read this column every month for the past two years, you’ll know that the staff at Thrive are still working to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness, as this stigma prevents many people from getting the help they need. they need it when they show symptoms of a mental disorder. sickness.
If you love horror movies or dress up in spooky Halloween costumes, you probably won’t be much surprised at how many of them are related to mental illness. It’s something we want people to really stop and think about.
If you search online for Halloween costumes, you will find a lot of them that attempt to represent some form of mental illness. You can order your own straight jacket for around $ 20, or you’ll find costumes labeled “mental patient” or various iterations of “psycho.”
While you might not have thought about it before, if you really delve into these labels, you will begin to understand why they are a problem. These are real illnesses for real people, and it hurts to laugh at a disease.
It is also problematic to vilify people with mental illness. It is unfair to paint the picture that people with mental illness are all scary, violent or dangerous.
We have to think about how it must feel for someone who has been diagnosed with psychosis and is surrounded by Halloween costume images of psychotic killers. A person surrounded by the negative stigma of mental illness is much less likely to seek professional help when they need it because they won’t want others to know they are symptomatic.
It is never good that the symptoms of mental illness go untreated, as the symptoms can get worse and cause permanent damage to the individual. Not getting the right treatment for symptoms of mental illness is also a risk factor for suicide, so getting help is very important.
While some things in our world are difficult to change and almost impossible to fix, this is not one of those things. If we want to make a difference, we can just stop buying these costumes and promoting these callous representations of mental illness.
We can stop perpetuating the myth that the mentally ill are scary and violent. We can refuse to accept the next âhaunted insane asylumâ type attraction that appears in our community or at theme parks. And we can pass all of this information on to our children as we raise them to be sensitive to others.
We don’t have to allow this kind of stigma to happen in our homes and we can make it stop in our communities as well. We can also make it our mission to encourage others to get help if they are showing symptoms of mental illness.
You can break down the stigma just by talking to others about mental health. You can share resources on social media that encourage people to get help if they need it. And you can remind friends and family that help is always available without judgment.
If you or someone you love has symptoms of mental illness in West North Carolina and isn’t sure where to go for help, contact Vaya Health 24/7 at 1-800-849- 6127.
For more information on the mental health services offered at Thrive, visit the website www.thrive4health.org or call the office at 828-697-1581.