The Mental Illness Perception
Mental illness is defined as a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or
impairment of personal functioning. In an brown household, it’s definition falls along the lines of
“you’re too young to know what sadness is,” and “what will the people think?” Mental illness
rather than being recognized and helped has instead become a taboo perpetrated by social stigma
and set standards. With mental illnesses being frowned upon it further exacerbates the issue
rather than confronting it.
The root of the problem of mental illness becoming a taboo in a community is mainly perpetrated
by inciting conversation that is superficial. Communication about issues becomes a foreign
concept and instead gossip and discussions on everything but the pressing matter at hand is
resorted to. Rather than asking about feelings, hardships, and anything that may impact the
mental health of a person the topics of discussion often become contingent upon the life of
others. Whether it be where someone else’s child didn’t get into college, a boy and a girl were
talking to each other and seeming genuinely happy, or how someone’s kid parties far too much,
etc.. Attention is resorted to knowing everything about everyone besides oneself and their
familial issues. Not only that, but it goes on further to set unreal standards causing the issue to be
even more condemned.
Associated problems occur with the taboo of mental illness because it has become prevalent and
prioritized. Dr. Graham Davey a Psychology professor at the University of Sussex finds that the
taboos go on to cause a bigger issue due to the fact that society does not leave enough space to
reach out and ask for help on addressing the issue at hand because of the intense fear of what
people might think if the taboo were to be defied. Society currently does not have an outlet to
speak openly about who they are and their difficulties because of the taboo on mental illness
prevails. People want to talk, they need help, but they cannot get it. Rather than addressing the
issue directly or trying to figure out the cause of their problems, it is written off with a baseless
opinion further exacerbating the taboo and the problems that surface from it.
This very root problem plagues society today making it more susceptible to mental illness and
further exacerbating the problem that originates from the taboos repressive ability. According to
the Mayo Clinic stigma often leads to negative beliefs and a desire to avoid or exclude persons
who hold statuses that defy the taboo. Many people with serious mental illness are doubly
challenged. On one hand, they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the
disease. On the other, taboos on it pressure one to keep their feelings confined.
Mental illness and taboos: two things that should not interfere and be problematic yet, they do.
Currently and historically, taboos and the negative perception surrounding mental health have
exacerbated issues and the problem with it way too far, for far too long. It is time that the taboo
is recognized and addressed rather than ignored and glorified.