Opinion: The mental health awareness movement sometimes lacks sincerity

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In the past few years, there have been movements to put mental health in the spotlight by emphasizing how it affects people’s lives, but is the movement as inclusive as it makes itself out to be?

Whenever I go onto my Instagram explore page, I see posts about mental health symptoms, how to take care of your mental health and so on. When I see it, I can’t help but wonder about the level of transparency in the post.

These posts on Instagram raise the question of whether the person posting it cares about the mental health crisis or the good graces that posting colorful infographics for people to share will get them.

People, including myself, at times, tend to put themselves on a pedestal in the face of a mental health crisis. We care about depression and anxiety, but only when it is convenient for us. Taking five seconds to repost an infographic is convenient, but we tend to lose this awareness when helping people included in the statistics.

Depression and anxiety are welcome in the mental health awareness movement, but only in the socially acceptable form. If someone is so depressed they cannot get out of bed, clean their room or brush their teeth, they are deemed gross and unable to care for themselves. If someone has mild depression, they are encouraged to talk to someone or get help.

Pointing out these differences in how mental health is treated is not to invalidate people with more mild cases of depression. Still, it is to criticize the current state of the mental health movement that excludes many realities of the movement.

When I was scrolling through the news, I came across a video of a naked man running across the highway. I looked at the comments and was disappointed to see them all joking about the man clearly suffering from mental illness.

One comment stood out: “This man is probably on drugs or schizophrenic, and I hope he gets the help he needs.” This is what the mental health movement is supposed to be about, inclusivity.

People want to be inclusive of others, but that does not mean they are. However, that can easily be altered with a change in perspective, such as the change in attitude toward the naked man running across the highway.

Because this judgmental thinking pattern is engrained in our minds, changing someone’s perspective on the mental health crisis is easier said than done. I firmly believe that the quickest way to change someone’s attitude is through personal experience.

When I had my mental health crisis, classmates harshly judged me, and rumors spread. However, it made me more sympathetic toward others that went through the same as I had once gone through. Thankfully, not everyone can experience this or knows someone that has but raising self-awareness when dealing with mental illness is crucial in making the movement more inclusive of others.

This is not to say that people do not have any sympathy towards people having a mental health crisis. It does go to say that people need to rethink what the mental health movement means to them and how they can work, as a people, to not be so judgmental towards people who are usually in deep pain. No one is perfect, but small habitual changes can mean the most.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 and the Crisis Text Line if you text HOME to 741741. The American Psychological Association has many resources for more specific confidential counseling.

Anslee James is a junior double majoring in history & government and writing & communication. When she isn’t at the gym, she can be found playing with her dog, Lola, or listening to Taylor Swift. She hopes to eventually become an attorney and become a partner of a firm in the future.

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