WHY MENTAL ILLNESS IS MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK

Evelyn recently wrote about recognising PTSD. Here’s my two cents on raising awareness on mental illness.

One of the most common misconceptions about mental illness is that it’s rare or uncommon. Another it’s that you can tell when someone has a mental illness because they’ll be blabbering, violent, or restrained with a straitjacket. Some believe that mental illness in the form of anxiety and depression is only experienced by adults or is the result of specific traumas.

All of that is untrue, as mental illness can manifest itself through a million and one ways for a million and one reasons.

As many studies continue to show (you can read more about that here), mental illness is on the rise, particularly when you juxtapose Baby Boomers (those born in the years after World War II) and Generation Y or Millennials.

There are many factors behind mental illness. From genetics (i.e. inherited) to infections (i.e. disease that affects the brain), and substance abuse (i.e. taking drugs) to poor nutrition. But that’s not what’s making mental illness more common, at least not in West. What’s making mental illness common is the stress of daily life. It makes people who would have, in another life and another time, probably not suffered from things like depression-related illnesses and anxiety.

What’s causing it? Well…

Higher Standards: Instagram and Tumblr are great for ideas and inspiration; Facebook helps us stay connected. But they also make us question if our lives are as good as those of the people within our social circle. Their relationships always seem happier; their clothes always look better; their skin always more flawless than ours.

Economy: Comparing a typical day of work of someone today to that of someone from 500 years ago, the differences are outright crazy. The competition we have today, the demands, the hours and the fact that we are always ‘on’ because of e-mails and mobile phones has affected us in more ways than we can think. The same goes for the fact that despite the rising standards of living, we are stressed thinking how we will afford to buy property, send our kids to a good school, etc.

Diversity: Probably the only problem with multiculturalism is that our brains cannot always take the strain of dealing with so many people from different cultures and backgrounds. But multiculturalism isn’t just defined by ethnicity or nationality; even here in Malta we often struggle to understand how ‘the other’ thinks when it comes to politics or ideals.

News: The constant bombardment of information is unnatural. We are now not only exposed to the hardships we and those around us go through, but of whole countries and communities far away from our own. Our humanity makes us feel bad for these people, but our humanity can only take so much.

All this is making mental illness more common because it’s all translating into anxiety and depression. So, while you may see someone and think they are functioning ‘normally’ and seem ‘happy enough’, be kind.

Do you think mental illness is on the rise?

Let us know in the comments section below!