Mental health issues have never received the respect and dignity they deserve, and now it’s getting worse. Though the stigma is diminishing, there is a new threat to the cause of mental health awareness: Romanticization.
Nowadays, social media is flooded with posts saying things like “suicidal people are just angels who want to go home,” or a picture of a sad Bart Simpson saying “I wish I was dead,” and outside of social media, You’re bound to see people wearing shirts with sayings like “my anxiety has anxiety,” and “panic attacks are my cardio.” Making illnesses into nothing more than memes and clothes makes a complete mockery of the very real issues of suicide and mental health and is extremely dangerous to more impressionable teenagers who are struggling because they’re problems and self destructive behaviors are seen as positive things.
Romanticization has also led to people diagnosing themselves to seem more deep and quirky. When people think that feeling sad means they have depression, getting worried means they have anxiety, getting distracted means they have ADHD, or something else along those lines, they are stripping these diseases to their simplest forms, effectively trivializing the struggle of millions of people.
In the United States nearly 25 percent of adults have some form of anxiety or depression according to apaa.org, and that doesn’t count all the other mental illnesses people suffer from. On top of that the CDC reports that every 11 minutes someone commits suicide. These are issues that torment people on a daily basis and can destroy relationships and families, there is no reason any of this should be idolized.
Lessening the meaning of mental illness doesn’t just mock those who suffer, it prevents them from what they need most: support. Someone who is really struggling could very well be ignored by their peers and loved ones because it’s harder to believe someone when a ton of other people are lying about the same thing. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, except there’s twenty boys crying wolf and only one of them is actually serious.
The girl who has scars all over her arm because she thought that was her only escape, the soldier who is still in combat years after his service, and the man who can’t even get out of bed in the morning are not jokes, not fashion statements, and they aren’t a fad. They are tortured people who need nothing but love and support, so please, make sure to spread awareness for mental health in a positive way and make sure those who are affected by mental illness aren’t lost in the sea of posers.