The Public Perception of Mental Health
Mental and Physical Health are Equally Important
I have had a passion to help others with their mental health and well-being since I was a young child. Human psychology and behavior struck my interest when my close family member was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. Even though this illness seemed to be worse than any health condition I was aware of at 10 years old, it appeared to me that many people did not take depression seriously.
I didn’t know the definition of stigma as a kid, but I witnessed it.
I remember family members stating that this person needed to “snap out of it and stop being so selfish”. But, you see, I knew this person very well and believed them when they said they were feeling sick. This resulted in confusion. I eventually learned that physical illness is collectively viewed as more legitimate than mental illness.
As an adult professional with a Masters degree in Counseling and Guidance working in behavioral health, I continue to witness stigma surrounding mental illness. It is frustrating. Public perception is difficult to change. Kevin Cullen, a columnist from the Boston Globe, recently wrote a fantastic article that investigates this dialogue about the public perception of and access to mental health. Check it out here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/27/changing-attitudes-harder-than-changing-law/8zC7BnYq4mC3SC7amioU2M/story.html#comments
Working in behavioral health is challenging but vital. If it weren’t for supportive counselors, doctors, and friends I may have lost that family member. It’s important as a behavioral health professional to put one foot in front of the other and do the work. It is crucial to continually use your voice to educate others and shape the collective attitude surrounding mental health. Every small step is significant when it is taken toward a culture that equally values mental and physical health.
-Megan Phillips, MA
Cullen, K. (2017, March 27). Pretending we have equal coverage for mental and physical illnesses is a joke. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/27/changing-attitudes-harder-than-changing-law/8zC7BnYq4mC3SC7amioU2M/story.html#comments