In Canada, Psychology Month falls in February. The goal is to raise awareness in regards to psychology and what the profession actually does. Within the profession, you will find many different types of individuals who hold different titles who help promote mental health. Social Workers, Psychiatrists, GP-Psychotherapist, Psychotherapists, Psychological Associates and the forerunners, Psychologists! Psychology month was created in 2006 in order to allow those who work in the profession to help create and promote the craft and help spread and education those on mental health.
The main problem we have with society and mental health is the lack of awareness and education. For many, the most they know about psychology and mental health are the movies and TV shows that Hollywood puts out. And while yes, in the last few years they have tried to become a bit (however not a lot) more accurate, it still doesn't change the fact that they have not helped with destroying the stigma that they have so magically created. In just about every movie, a person with mental health issues is depicted as someone who is completely out of their mind. So it makes me wonder, how much of the public really believes this and how has this affected their view in regards to those who suffer from this condition?
I am currently a psychotherapist studying to be a psychologist. Nonetheless whenever people find out what I do for a living the first remark out their mouth is "oh so you deal with crazy people?!" Moreover, once they hear I do forensics, they start to quiz me like if I am on a "criminal minds" show. Yet, very few people actually stop and ask me what is it that I actually do in the field of forensics. However, here is some newsflash, none of us deal with crazy people. However within the profession we do deal with people who have mental health issues which are part of their body making it a health issues. So if you had a broken leg or diabetes, would it be fair to say you are crazy for seeing your doctor for a health issue?
I recently spoke to a person who told me that they were depressed a few years back and their doctor tried to put them on medication. Their response was "I stood strong and didn't take any meds and didn't give in to that weakness". I was shocked to hear that because last time I checked, taking meds for a health issues doesn't make you weak or crazy. So why when it comes to the mind do we believe people are weak for taking meds to potentially help treat or cure a mental health issue....when its still a health issue..period?! If you had a blood infection, would you not take antibiotics to save your life? Or would you still say no because "medication are for the weak?" Why have we separated the body from the brain when both are still one?
Based on this is why I believe people have a hard time understanding that mental health is no different then a bodily issues. Both are health issues that are treated differently because they are associated in different regions within our anatomy. Nonetheless, I am still one person with one body that has different components. If your leg broke, or you caught a cold or developed an infection, no one would criticize you for seeking help. Yet if someone goes for therapy for many it is looked down upon. Again, why?
When I make breakfast in the morning, I like eggs. The egg has a shell, a yoke and egg white. Nonetheless, If I only make one egg though these three components exist within that egg, I still get only one egg. Moreover everyone would think I was out of my mind if I tried to make them believe that this one egg is actually three eggs in one. I see the body in the same way. Though I have two arms and legs, one torso and one brain, I am still one person. So why try to separate someone and treat their mental health issues separately if they are all still health issues? Why make them believe that their mental health issues are totally different then health issues?
I think it is important that the profession continues to promote awareness and help bring down this stigma in order to educate the public on what psychology and mental health issues really are. I also think it is in the public's best interest to seek information on the topic so they themselves can stop promoting the stigma associated with mental health issues.