What does health mean? The definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This idea contradicts much of what I was taught growing up. I always considered being healthy as the “absence of disease of infirmity”. I believe in part this is because of the minimal knowledge of mental illness, even in the late 90’s. I wasn’t taught about mental illness in school or at home. Even though as years passed, and having and living with a mental illness became more accepted, people didn’t talk about it. Through the advancement of technology we were allowed to explore things such as metal illness, and in turn it has revolutionized the way we view health, and what or who is considered “healthy”.
Treatments for mental health has been looked on as unnecessary and gratuitous, or worse yet, simply overlooked. Rack (1982) found that Asian cultures placed a higher social stigma concerning mental health than western cultures. It seems that collectivist cultures are more focused on the idea of conformity and that openly claiming that you suffer from a mental health disorder breaks social norms. As with all societal perceptions, information is key to the progression of thought. Advocacy for mental health is imperative. I think that whether you’re a professional or someone with personal experience, it’s important to voice the reality of mental health and the necessity for treatment to be a viable and shameless option. Medial health had always been a divisive issue in the US and the world alike. While I believe that we still have a long way to go in removing the social stigma from mental health, we have made noteworthy strides to change how we as a population view health as a whole, as well as what it means to us as the individual, within the last several decades.
Halle Van De Hey