Mental health happens to be something we often overlook both as individuals and as a society. Somehow we are incredibly receptive to physical illnesses, and yet the concept of mental illness is so inconceivable.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness in a given year, and at least 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. Every 18 minutes we lose someone to suicide. More than 90% of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder (NAMI, n.d; Crisis Clinic, n.d.).
While mental illness is a fairly common phenomenon and most illnesses are very treatable today, the misconceptions and the stigma surrounding mental health prevent people from seeking out the appropriate treatment they may require, and further perpetuates mental illness.
There are several misconceptions surrounding mental illness. Even in this modern day and age, there is still a faction of people who do not believe that mental illness exists. While there may not be any objective tests in psychiatry or exam findings that definitively determines that someone does or does not have a mental disorder, we cannot deny that people do experience emotional and behavioral problems (Frances, 2015). Others surmise that mental illness is a sign of weakness. According to Mental Health. Gov, “Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better.” Some people maintain the idea that mental health problems last forever. While not all mental health disorders such as Schizophrenia, are curable, nearly all mental disorders are very treatable through therapy and medication.
Some of the most influential figures in history have been known to have mental health conditions. Buzz Aldrin, one of America’s most famous astronauts, suffered from depression after his expedition to the moon. He was able to conquer his problems, and he eventually became chairman of the National Mental Health Association (Epstein, 2001). Aldrin is just one of many who disproves the belief that mental health problems are everlasting. I myself have struggled with anxiety and depression.
For a long time I have debated whether or not to publicly address this subject, but I cannot remain on the sidelines any longer. I realize sharing my story may impact my future and my career, but being true to myself is more important than anything else. Although my anxiety and depression do not define who I am, I cannot deny that both disorders have been a substantial part of my life. While it may be up for debate whether or not mental illness can be scientifically defined, these emotional and behavioral problems are very real phenomena. Mental illnesses should not be taken lightly, as they interfere with several aspects of a person’s life and can potentially put his or her life in danger. The overall perception of mental wellness needs to change. We need to be able to feel comfortable talking about the problem. That is the reason why I have decided to share my story. I am starting a conversation that will hopefully spark a change.
CCHR International. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2015, from
Epstein, R. (2001, May 1). Buzz Aldrin: Down to Earth. Retrieved August 04, 2016, from
Mental Health Myths and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved August 08, 2016, from