Believe it or not, mental illness IS a disability. It’s a mental health disability. But the recent suicide by beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams has cast a much-needed spotlight on the effects of this mental health disability and the sad stigma surrounding it. But when it affects your life to the point where you can’t get out of bed in the morning, it’s time to do something.
Williams had, at the time of his suicide, been battling severe depression. He also had a history of bipolar disorder (although it’s doubtful it had anything to do with his comedy style) and substance abuse, which he sometimes openly talked about in his stand-up routine.
Sadly, this mental health disability still retains an unfortunate stigma. Government statistics, as reported by The New Republic, state that in 2010, 60% of Americans with a mental health disability did not seek treatment. The reasons for this were both financial and otherwise, as they thought that they could not afford treatment and/or they could deal with it on their own.
The stigma of mental health disabilities, depression included, is that it has for the longest time, been seen as a weakness or character flaw instead of a medical condition. Saying things like “man up” can’t help someone when they’re constantly having suicidal thoughts. The sheer difficulty of treatment can be taxing in so many ways.
Part of the problem with treating mental health disabilities is the fact that a lot of Americans simply cannot get treatment for mental health disabilities. As mentioned in The New Republic article, too many Americans are not getting it. The third biggest factor in the poll state that many patients say they do not know where to go for mental health treatment. In Chicago, the city recently closed half of the city’s then twelve mental health clinics, and many who cannot afford treatment get it in Cook County Jail.
Already, we not only have a stigma, but a borderline-criminalization attached to mental illness. The thing about depression is that at times, no one can really tell what’s going on from the outside. A person can look fine, only when you dig deeper could they reveal their horrible battle with their own mind.
Thankfully, there are moves to fix things. Colorado has just opened their first crisis hotline in a statewide effort to erase the stigma and encourage people to get help. Called the Colorado Crisis and SUpport Hotline, it’s available for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be reached at 844-493-TALK (8255).
The World Health Organization (WHO) declares that mental health disability is a bigger problem in the United States ahead of heart disease and cancer. One in five Americans will deal with a mental health disability issue at some point this year. We hate to say this, but Robin Williams’s horrible suicide has brought a much-needed look into the state of our mental health disability treatment and awareness regime. Please, if you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disability, don’t waste anymore time. Get all the help you can get.
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This article was written by our jjslist.com Intern Paul.