How we and our peers view health has changed significantly in recent times. While advances have been made in the diagnosis and treatments of a great many diseases, it is a change in the overall attitude toward some facets of so-called “illnesses” that has been the most striking. This is especially true regarding mental health and its progression from the shadows of denial and ignorance over the past years. This has occurred even as recently as the last ten years, and helped a great many people cope with and tackle the problem head on.
For centuries, impairments or afflictions of the mind have terrified both society, and arguably, the medical profession as a whole. So called asylums were set up to cater for those patients deemed “mad,” a catch-all phrase that seemed to encompass any patient with symptoms that doctors of the day simply did not understand. Such ignorance and fear lasted beyond Victorian times, and indeed were deep rooted for a large part of the twentieth century.
However, the world seems to have moved into a new era of understanding. No longer is medicine merely focused at sedating patients and squashing symptoms of conditions such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, and depression, but rather with treatment of the underlying causes. This healthier view, as well as the advent of positive social media campaigns, among others, has helped to rebuff the stigma associated with mental illness, and help those affected in dealing with their condition, as any other medical patient would expect to, with care, understanding, and support, both from professionals, as well as family and friends.
There remains, however, a hesitation among some sufferers, particularly of depression and related disorders, to speak out and seek help. Some fear the medicine used to treat symptoms, though such drugs are not issued before a regimen of counseling has been put in place. Many others simply find it too difficult to put into words exactly what they are experiencing. It is a persistent acknowledgement amongst focus groups, the healthcare profession, public bodies, and the general population that can continue to tackle this issue, and ensure that those who need help can come forward to avail of it. Recent tragic events throw into sharp relief how terrible an affliction it can be, making unwavering support and a coherent dialogue, from state to local levels, so important.
Our health is the greatest asset we have. It is the cornerstone from which we build our lives, and our mental health is as important to maintain as our physical health. It is important that this becomes second nature to accept, because sometimes the best medicine is simply talking to someone.