By Dhiren Patel
Mental Health awareness is something we are sorely lacking, but progress is definitely being made. We have to realize that this is a real issue, not something you can just snap out off or a rut. There are real consequences of thinking this way and I can personally tell you that I have experienced this in my own life with my mother, who has schizophrenia and depression.
Mental health carries this stigma that limits our ability and curiosity to want to solve it. Sometimes this negative stigma comes from within your own family and even doctors have a tendency to gloss over it. Mental health has become an increasingly serious issue and our understanding of it has been marred by the stigma associated with it as well as our basic understanding of the brain.
1 in 5 Americans will be affected my mental health illness in their lifetime. That’s insane!
Examining the Stigma
What is a stigma? – a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. People with mental illness are always questioned or disregarded as crazy, something I have experienced in my own family. This affects their daily life and pursuit of happiness, they are robbed of their ability to hold normal lives, engage with people, and ability to hold a job.
Now think of that, these people are suffering from a serious condition that makes it hard for them to sometimes socialize, pay attention, but because we disregard them this idea becomes two-fold. We don’t treat people with cancer, diabetes, or a heart condition like that. It’s ridiculous to judge which conditions deserve more understanding. Discrimination on any level should not exist, we are all human and that’s a fundamental truth we all share.
We have to change our notion for labeling individuals, even as diagnoses. It should be understood that health is a lifelong pursuit that we are all trying to navigate.
How can Technology help?
The simple answer is that technology allows everyone to have a voice and share their story and in recent years celebrities and athletes like The Rock Ron Artest(Metta World Peace), and Kevin Love have taken advantage of this platform to share their own stories about their struggles with mental health. From movies like A Beautiful Mind to more recently the Joker we see the impact of mental health and can relate to it in a personal way.
These people have used their voice and audience to help people understand that this a real issue and how hard it is to deal with no matter the circumstance.
We have entered a time that values life in a more holistic way and see that with athletes and founders who talk about how important mental health is to conquer their challenges. People like Kobe Bryant and Steve Jobs have pushed mindfulness to the forefront and this has led to a better understanding of overall mental health.
As a result, this has stemmed tech leaders to take advantage of technology to develop apps like Headspace that take you through guided meditation sessions as well as Ginger.io which uses technology to provide support, guidance, therapy, and medication support from professional coaches, licensed therapists, and psychiatrists, respectively. Increasingly mental health has become a hot topic in the workplace with 80% of workers feeling stress on the job according to the Attitudes in the American Workplace report, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help.
Moreover, we are at the dawn of new era of personal medicine and genetics and this will help us understand the factors that cause mental illness as well as solutions. We have uncovered how important our gut health to our mental state, yeah that gut feeling is real! The more science and data we find about mental health, the more real it becomes to people and more we’ll be willing to understand it.
It’s been amazing to see how the conversation has moved forward, with ogranizations like the NBA
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” – Adam Ant