Mental illness remains a mystery to many people, especially people whom want hard facts, numbers, and data. The tricky thing about the mind is that it is not always that simple. Many diagnoses come from listening to people’s symptoms and observing behavior. Therefore, America is a standing contradiction. On the one hand, many people in America do not view mental illness, especially depression, to be a real disease. The term “mental health day” is used more as a joke than anything else, and when someone claims depression as a reason for their differing behavior, many will roll their eyes. However, doctors will prescribe depression medicine as readily as any other antibiotic. One in ten Americans will take an anti-depressant at some point in their lives (Rabin).
However, there are more specific elements to consider. Beyond the country one is located in, there are many external factors influencing how someone may view mental illness. For example, one’s family and/or family history could be a factor. Some families have a history of mental illness. This may have the family feel sensitive towards mental health issues or perhaps exploitative of one’s problems. Some families are too eager to treat depression with medication. But more serious mental illnesses, such a schizophrenia or MPD must be treated with intense psychotherapy and medication. This may not be understandable to a family that has never had to deal with mental illness. Families without experience may wonder why a person cannot simply “get over” these mental hurdles, unable to understand that it is not a matter of willpower.
While some would view a mental illness as something to be embarrassed of; others understand that mental illness is lacking awareness and that this problem could diminish with afflicted people speaking out. Those who feel embarrassed of their mental illness may feel that something is wrong with them, and not see their illness as an illness. Others may feel that they are sick just as one may be sick with the flu.
Religion is also an influencing factor. While some religions believe we are all made in God’s image, others believe in existence is a flawed state and the only state we will ever be in. So, while some believe mental afflictions are non-existent or perhaps just a mental state one can be talked down from. Other religions allow for a person to accept that mental illness can be biological, hereditary, and incurable. While those whom are more religious tend to stray from the belief that it cannot be avoided or cured.
Rabin, Roni Caryn. “A Glut of Antidepressants.” A Glut of Anti-Depressants. Accessed July 15, 2016. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/a-glut-of-antidepressants/?_r=0.