Opinion: Taking mental illness serious

There are millions of people in this country, myself included, who suffer from mental illness and are affected by the stigma and lack of comprehensive treatment and care.

Mental health care is ignored by the American public until it is used as a plot device in a TV show or used as a soundbite for a politician.

Language like “psycho” or “crazy” get casually thrown around to describe behavior.

Labeling yourself as “OCD” or having “PTSD” from the mundane is seen as a cute little quirk.

In TV crime dramas like “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” people with mental illness such as schizophrenia and psychosis are often made aggressors toward others, when those who suffer from mental illness are actually more likely to be victims.

Political talking heads only ever bring up the lack of comprehensive mental health care when tragedies like school shootings have been happening.

Politicians get their soundbite, but nothing is ever done, and we are again burdened with the stigma of now being viewed as mass murderers.

No one is taking action.

Mental health care is health care and needs to be seen as that.

Our very own campus only has one part-time therapist, Steve Avalos, who is supposed to serve a campus of nearly 13,000 students, and students only have an allowance of five visits with him.

Even if only 18.5 percent of American adults have any mental illness, according to a survey by the National Institute of Mental Health, that is still 2405 people who potentially need t,o be served by our campus therapist.

It also goes beyond hiring more mental health professionals.

Professors are unequipped when it comes to recognizing and helping a student or fellow faculty member with a mental illness.

The Affordable Care Act has opened many avenues for people to have access to mental health care; however, they can still struggle with biases for seeking treatment.

People seeking treatment are seen as weak and taking medication is seen as numbing yourself from reality.

This way of thinking isn’t the same for people with other medical issues.

People with broken limbs are not called weak for getting casts.

Diabetics are not taking the easy way out by taking insulin.

If those that are mentally ill fear the stigma of seeking treatment, they can often rely on self-medication and turn to drugs, alcohol or self-harm.

With school becoming more and more competitive and the stresses of life bearing down on the shoulders of all students, having more comprehensive mental health care available on and off campus may just save life.



Dennis is Journalism student. He is the president and ICC rep of the Citrus GSA.