From my childhood I can clearly remember that the words “Psychiatry” and “Mental Health Issues” were not popular. Instead, we called everyone who visited the National Psychiatric Hospital or had abnormal behavior “mad people”. With that, many people feared being judged negatively by others and would not seek help.
Today I would like to highlight that the government and other non-governmental organisations are working towards changing that perception. One of their many achievements is the training of specialists in the areas of mental health. Many of you reading are already aware of this, so I can get to my point.
As an element of change I want to call on everyone to CELEBRATE people living with mental health and related issues.
Who are we celebrating?
Persons living with mental health and related issues. They are our family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, person we sit next to on a bus. Families and friends who care for people living with mental health and related issues. Pray for them, encourage them to keep up the good work they have been doing. Professionals who care for people living with mental health and related issues.
It is common to be asked, “How you able with dem people duh?” Instead thank us for taking on a Challenge.
Why we must celebrate them?
Mental illness does not have face, race or status. Long story short: it can affect anyone. They are humans who need love and kindness. They say kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see. They contribute to our society. You may be eating your fruits and vegetables from them, they may be delivering your important mails and bills, they may be teaching your children, etc. As for those who care for them we are to be celebrated because we are strong.
What can you do? Ask questions about mental health issues so that you can understand what you don’t. Help to raise awareness of mental health issues. This will help to stamp out stigma. Don’t laugh at people. Don’t call them names. Be kind. Advise them to seek help. Accompany them to seek help.
You do not need to be a specialist to answer my call to CELEBRATE people living with mental health and related issues.
Dr Colleen Bovell