Note: This article was first published on Medium
Sometimes we underestimate the values that the society around us tries to embed within us as individuals. Everything we have grown into is influenced by our surroundings. The ‘rules and regulations’ we need to follow to be classified as a ‘good’ person might have an everlasting impression on how we modify our behaviors to in fact live judiciously – this I feel strives towards a form of social acceptance.
Our need to be accepted in the society we live in is immeasurable and leaves an indelible mark. Why is this? why do we need to be accepted by our fellow human beings? The answer might seem simple but the process is very complex. Being socially accepted does not mean pleasing others but rather pleasing ourselves and liked for who we are.
Throughout history mental illness has been closely correlated to social acceptance. Many mental illnesses are consequences of our individual social skills. This is why developing a social network is very important but it can be difficult especially if one does not learn the skills required to overcome their lack of social skills.
Having met a few people with mental illness I have come to understand that being socially accepted for who they are is not an easy task. There is a lot of stigma still attached to say bipolar disorder or depression which are not very accurate, and which the society has failed to cure completely. Medications and official consultation does not go very far in curing the cause although symptoms might improve. Some stigmas attached with mental illness are:
- The individual is “abnormal” and cannot function normally
- Mental Illness is a disability which cannot be cured
- Medication is a long term requirement and if stopped the person might become violent
- Unable to cope with daily routine activities
- The person cannot be trusted, is lonely and cannot make friends
These are some of the stigmas attached to mental illness which are not accurate. They are also closely related to social acceptance. Society has taught us that if we accept victims of mental illness then we might put ourselves in danger. That people of mental illness will not prove to be long lasting friends and so forth. Such stigma needs to stop.
I have met many people with such illnesses where they can function perfectly well even under stress. Some even have a talent or intuition higher than that of people who are classified as ‘normal.’ I had realized that I myself used to have such stigma but have slowly come to accept people for who and what they are, regardless of whether they have a mental disorder.
Acceptance for the way people naturally are is the key here – stigma is surrounded around discrimination, when one fails to see the reality of things and remains ignorant. It is a fact that more than 450 million across the globe suffer from mental illnesses. It is also a fact that many of these people do not receive proper medical or social attention that they need. Many prefer to be ‘under cover’ without disclosing their illness to the public.
If we can just do our bit and support the people who have been unfortunate enough to be affected by mental illness – for instance if we could even make one friend with a mental illness, I feel we would make the world a better place.