Thu | Dec 3, 2020

Letter of the Day | Remove stigma around mental illnesses

Published:Monday | October 19, 2020 | 7:25 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

October 10 was celebrated as World Mental Health Awareness Day. There has been a lot done, including public education even amid restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this though, dark clouds still hang over patients with mental illnesses, and the disease itself remains shrouded in mystery.

Mental illness, according to Mayo Clinic, refers to the wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour.

Mental health disorders include the most commonly occurring anxiety disorders to the more debilitating schizophrenia spectrum disorders; it also include substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, sexual dysfunction and hundreds of other disorders, as listed in the fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the American Psychiatric Association diagnostic manual.

People who suffer from mental illnesses experience a plethora of scary signs and symptoms. Combined with these harrowing signs and symptoms, people who suffer from mental disorders are sometimes stigmatised – they are ostracised. Often, the stigma leads patients to refuse treatment, leading to deterioration of their condition.

Anyone can be affected by mental illnesses at any time in their lives, and living with it doesn’t have to be end of the world; treating mental disorders is much easier. Treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy, social work, and lifestyle modifications serve to bolster improvement. Education also plays a significant role in treatment; it is essential that clients and their loved ones be taught to recognise signs and symptoms and to access timely care.

Those who suffer from mental illnesses are normal people. They do recover with treatment just as individuals with chronic diseases. Many are reintegrated in the society and resume their normal functioning lives.

It’s time we remove the stigma that weigh down those who battle with mental illnesses. Let’s show that we care.

KOFI TAFARI