Mentally Unhealthy People

Mentally Unhealthy People

How do attitudes towards people with mental health issues vary? In the present world there are many hundred million people suffering from some sort of a mental disorder, be it depression, schizophrenia or substance abuse. People with mental health issues lead a very difficult life. Most of them feel alone and are alone, even though their family supports them. Though the people with mental health issues face a number of problems in their lives related with taking decisions, tackling situations, solving problems and coping with sadness, one of the biggest problems they face is discrimination against them.

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Mentally sick people, not only in our community and society, but also from the governmental and official point of view, have been discriminated against. The evidence being the fact that more than 50% of the countries in the world spend less than 1% of their health expenditure on mental health. Many governments don’t even consider mental health in their budgets. This is all official staff and mental health is not even being given its share in here. So what kind of treatment do you expect in a society?

As one encounters a mentally unstable person, his or her attitude towards that person doesn’t remain as it would have been towards a normal person. Talking of normal people is out of bounds; even physically unhealthy people are being treated with a better attitude than the mentally sick people. This happens in the most societies. For example-When we encounter a person who can’t walk, we don’t mind talking with him or having a little chat with him but if we encounter a person who is suffering with a mental disease like schizophrenia, we treat him or her as different and have hesitation in opening up to them and having a little chat with them.

We try to avoid such people. What’s so wrong about mentally sick people? They are also humans and deserve all the Human rights that we do. They are just medically unwell as a person with asthma or person with diabetes would be. Mentally sick people should be considered similar to physically sick people and treated with same attitude. Well, I do understand that the mentally sick people have lesser thinking power and don’t think the way the other members of society would.

True that it is a bit odd to talk with a person who can’t think properly. For example- when talking to a mentally unwell person, his/her views might not be very true or might not make any sort of sense. So it’s a bit difficult to talk openly to that person. But they should be given their share of respect and social treatment regardless of their medical condition. I mean, why do people lock the mentally unstable in jails or don’t allow them to move freely throughout the country or don’t give them the right to vote.

In intense cases, mentally disabled people are treated as bad as prisoners. Why so? Give these people medical treatment instead of discrimination if case is intense or the patient is going violent or something like that. No law says that beating mentally sick or treating them unequally is a part of humanity. When we don’t treat somebody equally, he or she starts feeling bad about himself or herself. This contributes even more to his/her sadness and ultimately to his mental problems.

Looking at this issue from the cultural context, I can see that different cultures have different definitions of mental illness and that’s why a person who is perfectly healthy in one society might not be so in other. For example- A person who doesn’t go skiing in Norway is considered strange and mentally unhealthy but if the same person goes to some other country like India he will be seen as fine. So that’s how attitude towards mentally unhealthy people vary in different societies.

So this raises one more question, is having your own opinion and thoughts a mental illness because all the people who are having different thoughts other than the general thoughts of the society are considered as mentally unhealthy. I think as far as you are having different thoughts and opinions, it’s not a problem but if the thoughts are pretty different from the other members of the society and you act on them to a great extent, you will be considered mentally unhealthy at least in that society. Sadly, the mental illness is also used as an excuse for doing something wrong.

For example – The lawyer of Anders Breivik, who was the main person behind Oslo attacks, said that Anders is suffering from a mental problem so that he could escape his punishment, even though it was not accepted. So this raises another question, should mentally unstable people be given this type of privileges where they can be forgiven for doing something wrong. In the beginning I said that mentally unstable are being discriminated against and at the same time they are being given more privileges. This doesn’t make sense.

But I can see that, for mental illness to be an excuse one should have been medically classified into this category. In my conclusion I would like to say that the attitude towards mentally unhealthy people does vary a lot in comparison to other members of the society. But in a perfect world it should not be. In my opinion, mentally unhealthy people should be given same status as other people and be talked to, be included and given their rights. If it is an intense case involving violent patient, then medical treatment should be the first priority and only then should we restrict that person.


I'm Iris

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