Who speaks for the Mentally Ill?


Illustration by Carla Hernandez

Carla Hernandez, Staff Writer

When the term “mentally ill” is used, people often picture a lunatic in a straitjacket sitting in the corner of a hospital room with padded walls. No one really pictures the nice girl from their science class that they borrowed notes from the one day.

It’s hard to tell sometimes what exactly a person is going through in their life because of the simple fact that most have learned to suffer in silence. In reality,¬†nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental disorder, according to the¬†Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There are few schools even advocating the importance of mental health.

What few are aware of are the organizations like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That aims to advocate mental health and educate the public on key signs and treatment options, As well as create an understanding that those suffering from a mental disorder have a voice and deserve to be heard.

I personally fall into the 1 in 5 suffering from mental illnesses. I have severe major depression. With that, everything seems pointless and I’m left detached from the world. At the time it became too much to handle I went for help, and it seems like society still can’t get over the stigma that surrounds the term “mentally ill”. I was labeled as unstable and instantly hospitalized by a guidance counselor who said medication was my best option. At that point I wasn’t a troubled kid, but a patient. Finding someone to trust was difficult, but I learned to take a chance and since then my character has changed. I still struggle with my mental health, but its easier knowing I have friends and even these support networks to help me get through it.

Truth is, the school system has no clue how to respond to those suffering from mental disorders. I’m here to tell you that there are people out there that you can go to for help and won’t treat you like another mental case. In my opinion, you should find a friend you trust and when you feel completely alone just know there are organizations out there you can trust as well. You don’t have to put up a brave face and fight this alone. The first step is finding your voice and knowing who to trust.