Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

If You’re Reading This, It’s Not Too Late: Ending the Stigma of Mental Health

By Joshua Villafranco


Mental illnesses have a huge stigma surrounding them. In today’s society mental illnesses are not socially accepted in the same light as physical illnesses.

Someone who has diabetes, a broken bone, or is diagnosed with cancer is considered to be ill and is given grief and aid for every aspect of their lives. On the other hand according to someone who deals with a mental illness such as anxiety or depression is considered “’dangerous’, ‘crazy’ or ‘incompetent’ rather than unwell.” 

This stigma surrounding mental illnesses must come to an end. There are efforts put in place to fight the stigma such as talking openly about mental illnesses as well as educating everyone on mental illnesses. The more people know about mental illnesses the easier it becomes to expel the stigma that surrounds them. 

Today’s young adults have taken a hit because of this stigma. According to one in five young adults has a mental illness. They don’t seek professional help to deal with a mental illness for the fear of being ridiculed or being an outcast in society 

The truth is that mental illnesses are real and anyone around you can have one including a teen or young adult. As defined by “A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood.” A mental illness is more than the stereotypical “psychosis.” 

It involves everything from generalized anxiety disorder to depression to obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s not just the homeless person that yells at people or the crazy old lady that lives down the street. It’s everyday people dealing with struggles of the mind. The stigma around mental illnesses must go away so people can get better.

One way the stigma surrounding mental illnesses is being fought is through Hollywood. Shows like “13 Reason Why” and “This Is Us” highlight the struggles and normalcy that someone with a mental illness endures on an everyday basis. These shows also highlight the stigma that someone with a mental illness endures, which is important to show how difficult it is for a person to be open about their mental illness. Besides shows in Hollywood more and more celebrities such as Lili Reinhart, Shawn Mendes, James Franco, and Demi Lovato are coming out and being open about their struggles with mental health and how they are coping with it. After the tragic deaths of celebrities like Robin Williams and Chester Bennington, celebrities are more open to talk about their struggles. Although tragic these deaths help propel the awareness of mental illnesses and why it’s important to seek help, so another suicide doesn’t occur.

Even with Hollywood bringing mental illnesses to light in the public it is still not enough to end the stigma. Those who suffer from a mental illness are still scared to come forth and to seek the help they need. 

The fear begins with the thought that you are either weak or insane. Also confusing matters are recent mass killings. From school’s to concerts and everything in between, mass shootings tend to always be categorized as the work of a “mentally ill person.” This makes people with mental illnesses afraid to come forth with their issues for fear they will be categorized with the offenders of these crimes. Someone who has a mental illness is also incorrectly put into a box that they are weak and they will harm themselves for attention and not because they need help.

Being socially accepted is something that the young adults of today crave. No one wants to be an outcast or wants to be considered a weirdo. They want to be liked and accepted. If they don’t get a sense of that they then hide or deny even to themselves that they have a mental illness.

Dr. Mary Henein, one of the psychiatrists on campus at Fullerton College, believes that the stigma around mental illnesses has halted the progress of many of the students she has come in contact with.

“The fear of having a diagnosis…has kept students from returning for more sessions,” Henien said. This fear as well as the busy schedules that comes with being a college student has made the progress of ending the stigma and helping people, especially students, come to a standstill.

Students once diagnosed become afraid to seek further help. The stigma is too high for someone to be completely open with their issues as explained by Henein. This is where alternative options for help come into play.

There are many ways for someone dealing with a mental illness to get help or even help themselves. The most common way is to go out and seek help from a professional and start therapy. This can be daunting for some people, having to work one on one with a therapists or psychiatrists talking about issues that one may not be comfortable with. In this case someone dealing with a mental illness can contact help hotlines such as the NAMI-OC WarmLine:1-714-991-6412 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-8255 to help cope with their issues in a less confronting manner. 

On Fullerton College’s campus Dr.Henein conducts peer group meetings for people dealing with social anxiety and has plans to create new groups that are ongoing throughout the school year. Fullerton College also provides free services to students such as meditation groups and classes that focus on dealing with a mental illness. People can also seek help through their religion for a more spiritual outlook. 

There’s also many everyday ways that someone can help themselves. Picking up a hobby such as journaling or staying active by working out or picking up a new sport can help someone with a mental illness better their lives. Self care for people can also come from being around people that make one feel loved or that they belong 

Someone that is dealing with a mental illness should not be shunned by others. These people deal with the same struggles that everyone else in the world can have. Their illnesses are real and not just a figment of their imagination. They are illnesses that should be taken seriously and can be treated. For this reason the stigma surrounding mental illnesses must end so that the people dealing with them can get better, and live a life without fear of judgement from others or themselves.