As defined by WHO, we should be in a complete physical, mental and social well-being to be completely healthy. We might be completely physically healthy but not mentally. Mental illness has the ability to, silently kill a person simultaneously every second, throughout a particular period of time. Most of us are not even aware that we have a mental illness. So how do we know, what we are experiencing is normal? As mentioned by Parrott and based on the discussions in class, we have an idea of how normal we are through quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (stories) information. Lindsay Holmes, a Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/01/mental-illness-statistics_n_6193660.html), promotes mental awareness using the quantitative analysis. I was really amazed to see how ‘normal’ mental illness is these days. According to the statistics she has stated, 61,500,000 people experience mental disorder in a given year and the estimated economic cost of untreated mental illness is USD 100,000,000,000!! But 70-90% showed improvement when necessary healthcare was provided. 25% of people die by a suicide each year. These numbers show how complex and common mental illness is.
Narratives are also widely used to promote mental health awareness globally. I personally feel that narratives is the best way to create awareness of any mental illness. Narratives give people hope and show them that there is a way to get out. A person with a particular life threatening physical disease can be depressed and have no hope at all. But if she get proper mental care, she will get mentally stronger and happy. She will have hope and stand strong and fight her diseases which might actually help her to recover. I came across an emotional narrative produced to raise self-awareness of the mental health of young people. This narrative was published by ‘Safe’ which is a youth-led project run by students in the UK. They try to raise mental health awareness and promote the youth to talk about their problems. In this narrative we see both qualitative and quantitative information used to show us where normalcy lie and to raise awareness as to what to do if you are feeling something similar. This video also helps a person to know how to identify if their friend is having a mental illness. This video shares stories of 7 different people ranging from 11 years to a university student(20 years). This video also makes the public aware of what’s going on in the head of depressed youth and what they try to do to get out of it. Most of them try to hurt themselves or either take it out on someone else. Chris who is really worried and depressed about his parents’ divorce and his elder brother, takes his anger out by bulling his friends. Laura who thinks she is fat tries to get out of her problem by smoking, not eating and even trying to get sick! Simon is haunted by thought that he might be gay and is finding difficulty in coming out. This video also promotes how to identify if one of our friends having a really bad time. Tom notices the change in his stressed friend and the scratches in his hand. Steph on the other hand lost her friend who committed suicide. This story shows us the eventual result of an ignored depressed person. She is depressed and tormented by the fact that her friend tried to talk with her but she ignored thinking that she was just trying to seek attention. These narratives help the community by promoting awareness, helping them to assert control. It helps to transform identities of many induvials who are silently tortured to come out and talk about their problems. Also, this narrative promotes the decisions a depressed person and the people who see the signs of a depressed person should take. This video helps to build the community, to show that we are not alone and encourage people to talk to someone AND also to listen to anyone who needs to ease the load in their minds.
Let’s talk it all out and ease our minds…
Let’s listen to it all with love because it can be you, who makes a difference in their lives!
A M Ovini H Amarasinghe