What Mental Health Disorders Are Not and What Mental Health Disorder Support Is

by - Friday, August 17, 2018

There are so many misconceptions about mental health support that need to be cleared up. Mental health support is so important because it can be useful if therapy is just that bit too expensive or if a psychologist is out of budget or if you have to drive 50 miles in order to see the nearest psychologist.

Mental health disorders are NOT...
A competition-I have seen this on a few friends' Facebook posts, and I'm going to be frank. Competing to see who has the worst mental disorder is wrong. Just because you have a kid who's teething while working full time AND while battling depression on medication does not mean you have it worse than the person who couldn't get out of bed or shower for two weeks because of crippling depression. Everyone's mental health is different, and we should be supporting each other instead of trying to rip each other apart over who has the worse condition.

Superficial statements-What really opened my eyes about mental health is how superficial it is on platforms like Instagram. Some people will make a post pretending to care about mental health (i.e., like when a celebrity or other famous person commits suicide), and then go back to their old, bullying ways (i.e., posting stuff about losing weight or saying something potentially triggering).

Acting as though mental disorders are to be casually thrown around-I see this all the time on social media and it's partially contributed to why I deleted two of my social media accounts, as well as unsubscribing from practically every Youtuber except for a select few. I really don't like it when people have everything organized and call themselves OCD. That is not an accurate representation of OCD, because with OCD, even when one thing gets messed up, the affected person has to re-clean their entire collection or their entire room. Mental illnesses are not stereotypes to be thrown around casually. Just because you felt sad over something does not mean you can say you're depressed. Depression is far worse than the sadness that's portrayed on commercials.

Acting as though mental disorders are glamorous-because they're far from the sad woman you see staring out the window in those antidepressant advertisements on TV. They're the grimy, bed-ridden girl with knotty bedhead who couldn't muster the energy or care to take a shower for the fourth day in a row. It's the boy who had just washed his hands for the 50th time in a row so they're red and raw from all the scrubbing. It's the woman who has everything she ever wanted who is having the time of her life at a party one minute, and then having a panic attack on the front steps a minute later out of the blue. Having a mental disorder is not as glamorous as it appears on TV and sitcoms. 

Mental health Disorder Support IS...
Reaching out to the person to see if they are okay-this can be very difficult if the person you're trying to reach out to does not really use social media or texts and if you don't live anywhere near them, but it's so important to make sure your affected friends are okay. It will show them that you care. You don't necessarily have to post anything on their wall, but just drop by their profiles and see their new posts. If they post anything alarming or out of character, that's when you should reach out and ask them if everything is okay.

Doing research-I've done a lot of research on mental disorders, particularly while I was taking psychology in high school and once again in college, for Anatomy and Physiology and regular Psychology. I'm pretty sure I've exhausted the DSM-5 by now, but researching mental disorders will teach you the signs and symptoms to look out for, so you can stay alert if your friend starts exhibiting any of them.

Showing you care-it can be difficult to show friends you care if you don't exactly live next door or even a short distance away, but a comment on a Facebook post or a like on an Instagram post will let them know you still care.

Doing random acts of kindness-doing a random act of kindness for your friend who is suffering is sure to brighten their day. If they haven't cleaned their apartment in months, gather a few friends who know your friend and have a little cleaning party. You'll feel great that you helped your friend, and your friend will be grateful for your help and that they now have a clean apartment.

Not suffocating them-of course, it's important to reach out to your friends in need, but that doesn't equate to messaging them every ten minutes because I can guarantee they will get annoyed at you. The very least you can do is quietly take a look at their profile to see if they've posted anything out of character and move on if they haven't, and you can do this once a day or once every couple of days.

What are some misconceptions about mental disorders that you've learned and how do you support your friends through tough times?

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