Mental health does not define you

You will never make it to university!  Why can’t you just be happier? I don’t understand why you’re like this! Just snap out of it!

Sometimes, people do not have a wide understanding about mental health.  This misunderstanding of mental health can lead to stigmas.  If it is not taught in school, many of us rely on media outlets for understanding an issue.  I have run into many television shows that make mental health seem like the worst thing that has ever happened to a person; a character with a mental health condition is always treated differently.  In many crime shows, it seems like the condition is the main topic. The criminal had mental health problems, so the crime makes more sense now, right?

Mental health does not define a person and is not always the answer to explain their actions.  In the television show Parenthood, a child was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (autism).  Everyone around the child treated them differently afterwards and made it seem like they lost their child.

One of the worst parts of having mental health problems is the stigma that surround it.  Opening Minds by the Mental Health Commission of Canada states that 60 per cent of people with a mental health problem will not seek help due to the stigma that is attached to the label.  We live in a society that cares more about labels than getting the right help.

HeretoHelp, partners with Mental Health and Addictions Information in British Columbia, found that just under half of Canadians thought a disability was an excuse for poor behavior.  Imagine trying to get accommodations in school or being afraid to talk about mental health because of the negativity surrounding it.  With this statistic, there will always be at least one educator who believes that your disability is an excuse. What amazed me even more is the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that 20 per cent of Canadians live with a mental illness in Canada.  That is one in five people; you are bound to meet more than one person with a mental illness in a lifetime.  Yet, we still have these ideological views that are not necessarily correct.

I have never considered having a mental health problem as a big issue.  It was not until I was older when I realized that a person is treated differently if they have a learning problem or another disability.  Even my autistic cousin has people talking to him like he is a toddler, which he is not.

Being pulled out of class for extra help as a child made me feel less normal.  Due to the lack of funds, children get put into a special education classes full of ranges and spectrums of disabilities.  The issue is that every problem is different and requires a different way to navigate it.  Most of the time, people with mental health problems would like to feel normal because they are normal.  I look forward to seeing a world where everyone would be considered equal – regardless of a person’s characteristics or qualities.

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