Mental illness should be taken seriously
The first full week in October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time when mental illness concerns are raised and, hopefully, respected. Congress established the awareness week in 1980 in recognition of the hard work done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Milledgeville has a long history dealing with different types of mental illnesses, with Central State Hospital opening its doors in 1842 as Georgia’s first public psychiatric hospital.
With the existence of such a place there comes a certain stigma. Even today, there is still something unspeakable about having some sort of mental illness that is not present when there is a physical disability or problem.
When someone goes to physical therapy or attends regular check-ups with a doctor, they are praised for “taking care of themselves.” Maintenance of physical health is much more than just the norm; it is almost expected of a person. But when someone makes an appointment with a psychiatrist or checks into a mental health facility, there are often jokes made about their sanity.
As serious as mental illness is, like physical ailments, it can vary in its intensity and ability to affect a person’s life. Some people can hold down jobs, finish school and have many positive relationships. Some cannot live alone and must be under the care of another person at all times. It is not fair to label someone as “crazy” over something they cannot control. Nor is it fair to view someone who is trying to get help for mental illness as less legitimate or less health-seeking than one who is trying to take care of his or herself physically.
College is not the place to be close-minded. This statistic is relevant to the age group here at Georgia College, and this is not the time to remain ignorant to it. A student with ADHD does not need a lecture from a professor about how she just needs to “focus.” A student with depression does not need to be told how selfish he is for being a “downer.” This is the age when many are hit the hardest by mental illness. What anyone battling it needs most is support.