1 in 4

Image/The Hechinger Report

Image/The Hechinger Report

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by past Defiant staff writer Lauren Cohen.

Tell me why. Why is it that 1 in 4 of us suffer from a mental health issue yet less than 1 in 4 of us share our experiences? Why it is that we live in a society where there is no open dialogue surrounding mental health? Why is it that we have established such a strong yet negative social stigma on the topic of mental health? Tell me why. We are losing a generation of youth who do not believe that their voices are worth hearing, that their pain will never cease. We must bring mental health into the conversation, we must open up the dialogue and lay out the pages of our story. Let us share our narratives so that this global epidemic surrounding mental health no longer resides and festers in the darkness. Let us bring the light to one of the most serious challenges our society faces.

Mental health does not discriminate. It affects us all: female, male, and non-binary, rich and poor, black, brown, and white, old and young, disabled and non-disabled. All of us. For far too long have we lived in silence, fearful of the culture that still surrounds mental illness. We must fight this taboo. Fighting the taboo is the first of many things we need to do. Mental illness is not shameful, but stigma is. The stigma of mental illness is driven by fear and lack of knowledge. Society’s stigmatization of mental illness prevents people from self-advocating and forces them into silence. We must shed light on this paradox in our society that prizes freedom of speech but silences the voices of those struggling. Let us begin the conversation. 1 in 4 of us may be suffering but 4 in 4 of us must be speaking.