Stigmas surrounding the Mental Health Profession
When you enter the field of psychology the foremost thing that you learn is that there is a huge stigma associated with Mental health and hence your profession. It’s quite easy for people to tease you that ‘after your studies you are sure turn mad’ or call you ‘Psycho’ but only your fellow colleagues understand how hurtful it is. It’s not the teasing that puts you off but the sad way people perceive a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
But does psychology only deals with the ‘Mad’? Many of the myths and perceptions that exist in the society at large are wrong by a great margin. What people fail to understand is that we humans exist on two interacting planes: Physical and Mental; and as important is the physical well being of an individual so is the mental health in order to lead a fully functioning and productive life.
To be physically fit and fine what do we do? We follow the preventive measure given by the nutritionist or doctor and in the case when we feel sick or suffered from some serious kind of disorders we consult them for the treatment, spend all of our life-savings in order to get back to our routine and healthy life . In a similar manner, to be mentally healthy we have to follow the directions of a psychologist or a psychiatrist and in case of any psychological changes, we need to consult them so that maximum level of well being could be achieved.
The questions that now arise are that what really happens when a mental illness develops in individuals or their loved one? Do people really take help or encourage others for taking help? Are the measures taken quickly or people wait for the last possible moment until no other option remains? Sadly the answers to these questions are quite negative.
Researches constantly show that the prevalence rate of psychical disorders continue to increase but the professional help seeking behavior is decreasing which is quite alarming. One of the contributing factors of this approach is lack of awareness regarding importance of mental health and this requires immediate attention. The other more important factor is the disregard for mental health and the huge stigma associated with it. For this reason the gap between prevalence of the diseases and help seeking attitude, also called ‘service gap’, continues to remain and is a huge matter of concern. Until and unless we make an effort at our individual levels, and instead of being ignorant, try to be conscious of the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and if need be, seek help without any delay.
Ending my note I would say that be brave. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being afraid of people and the society will only restrain you from living this one life that you have been gifted by God.
About the Author: Sarwat Amin Rattani, completed A levels from Beaconhouse School System with 4As and 1B. She’s urrently enrolled in Psychology Bachelors Program at University of Karachi (2nd year) and has been volunteering with Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF) and Aga Khan University along with voluntary teaching in the community (since 3 years), and serving as member of Pakistan girls guide association (since the past 13 years). Sarwat has also published letters to the editor in both English and Urdu newspapers; Express Tribune, The Nation, Jang to name a few. She can be reached at: [email protected]
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