I had a discussion the other day with someone who had some interesting views on mental illness. This was during a stress-reducing event, at my college, designed to help college students deal with the stresses of finals. I wanted to talk about this for two reasons: 1) He brought up an interesting point but 2) His understanding and response to mental illness felt insensitive and one sided.
Firstly, I am part of an organization on my campus that works to reduce the stigma that mental illness often carries, while at the same time providing resources for students to receive support. This is because about 1 to 4 (or 5) College student deal with mental illness, and more often than not, do not seek out support. It was during this event that (we will call him) Deangelo wanted to know more about our organization and what we were trying to do on our campus quad. One interesting idea that he brought up was that not enough is being done to support individuals dealing with mental illness. Of course, he acknowledged that there are therapy and support groups that people could turn to but that it was generally up to the person to decide whether or not to continue going. And if the person chose not to go, then they were pretty much left to deal with things on their own. This caused him to believe that these programs were ineffective because you cannot help someone who does not want to be helped. Therefore, he believed that people dealing with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and others, have to reach ‘rock bottom’ before they can receive any support to ensure that they would follow through with that treatment.
Although I do believe you cannot help someone who does not want to be helped, I don’t believe that means we should disregard them until they ‘are ready’ to receive that support. I think that one of the big reasons people seek out therapists and other professionals for support is because they feel, perhaps rightfully so, that their friends or family would 1)Not understand 2) would not be able to help them, and 3) it would put unwanted pressure on their friends and family that would lead to other difficulties. It is because of these reasons that we should be raising awareness to the support systems in place to help these individuals, which hopefully lets them know that they can and do have other ways to receiving support. By saying that they have to ‘reach rock bottom’ first implies that they have to have a ‘good or justified’ reason to reaching out. And of course, there is the fact that ‘rock bottom’ is different for everyone. For some, rock bottom may not be reached or may cause them to partake in very extreme and dangerous actions, in which they may not be thinking of finding support.
So yes, it is difficult to reach out to someone who is not open to receiving support, but that does not mean we should not try. They are worth the fight and deserve to feel worth fighting for. Of course, there are some great and not so great ways to addressing some topics, and it is normal to feel uncomfortable to reach out for support and to have someone bring up some concerns that they have for you. It is also pretty common for people to feel uneasy to even bring up these topics to someone they are concerned for. But the important thing is to show that, “Hey I am here, and I care!”
One of the reason’s I started this blog was to hopefully address some of these concerns and expand our understanding of our own mental illness, or of those we care for.
P.S. this is my first post and the first time I have even considered blogging. I am always open to some constructive criticism! Or comments if there is something maybe I did not mention. It would not only help me but others who may read this!
Thanks again and until next time,