Let's confront mental illness
THE EDITOR Sir:
Often times, we hear of people committing suicide and, or, murdering someone. More recently, there have been reports that a policeman took his own life.
We all can sit, judge and arrive at our own conclusions, but the truth of the matter is that these actions are not those of healthy people. Persons who carry out these actions are most likely suffering from a mental illness. Mental illness is increasingly prevalent in the Jamaican society, and I can say from my own personal encounter and communication with individuals that more persons are falling ill, mentally.
However, it is not a common topic of discussion to be had among others here in Jamaica. People shy away from the idea of ever discussing their mental state with family and friends, not wanting to be labelled as 'mad'.
A few weeks ago, the question was asked in a forum, 'Why do people commit crime?' I said, "Well, because they may be mentally ill." Persons looked at me as if I was strange for saying that. Mental illness in Jamaica is understood only on the basis of insanity (mad men and women) by the majority, while many fail to understand that it is really like any other illness, the common cold, to say the least.
If there is an inefficiency in the functioning of a person's mind (stress, depression), then that person is mentally ill. Allowing persons to openly talk about their emotional struggles and making the topic clear to people not familiar with psychology can help a lot on how one deals with life's struggles.
If we are not taught about mental illness(s) as we are about the common flu/cold, then more persons will be ashamed and continue to struggle with an illness that can be resolved with counselling treatment. Let us as a people embrace the idea that being healthy and functioning well in society not only involves strong bones, teeth and proper weight, but also a mind which thinks clearly and understands its ever-changing emotions and deals with them in the most rational way possible.