Dignity in Mental Health: Psychological and Mental Health First Aid for All (World Health Organization)

Turning Illness into Wellness

Jhoana Marie Franco Catenza
LINK Club Academic Festival 7, Essay Writing Contest – Winning Piece

“Your mental illness does not define you, your strength and courage does”. Everybody, regardless of our gender, age, race, economic status or even culture, is born with equal rights to be respected. An individual aims to get the respect and value he deserves throughout his life. “Dignity” simply means to be treated with appreciation, honor and value. However, today, here in our society, almost 70% of the population is discriminated for a having a mental illness. That stigma surrounding the discrimination on mental illness and discrimination on people with disorder keeps them away from doing things such as building and maintaining relationships or finding and keeping jobs. It stops them from living the life they have always wanted. But, have we opened our eyes? Have we realized the effect of this discrimination on people with¬†mental illnesses?

According to the World Health Organization(WHO), people with mental illnesses are often deprived to access in education and employment opportunities, subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect or even locked up in institutions. When people are treated differently, unfairly or badly, this can affect the person from low self-esteem to a higher risk of having stress-related disorders. This can also produce a domino effect, not only affecting the victim’s life but passing onto another individual. But, what could discrimination possibly do to an individual?

Those who are discriminated and suffering from low self-esteem because of their mental illness, experiences fear and anxiety frequently. Believing that they have done something wrong. They also experience self-esteem attacks that often leads to depression and feelings of devastation. They feel hopeless about the present and the future. They often feel scared of upsetting others so they keep their feelings all to themselves and become passive. Some are overly sensitive and can be easily offended. Mostly teenagers have emotional breakdowns and resume to self – harming or suicide. Generally, they become overachievers or underachievers, achieving less or more than they might have. Proven by a research study, discrimination on mental health increases alcohol abuse to women and drug abuse to men. They are actually going through bigger problems than you think.

So, can we promote the dignity on mental health? What can we do to resolve this issue? For the health – care system, better support and care is needed. They should organize peer and civil organizations, covering a recovery approach that inspires and supports people with mental issues. They should also work collaboratively with the government, health professionals, families and victims. We, as citizens, should ensure their access to education, employment opportunities, housing, and social activities. We should also help each other. Respect begets respect!

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