By Finder Blogger: Andrea McKenna
I have something to say: I have bipolar disorder and I am not ashamed of it. And you shouldn’t be either.
Saying that is kind of a big deal because stigma is alive and well for mental health disorders here in Singapore and many other places in the world.
According to a 2015 article by Channel New Asia, “A recent mental health literacy study spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health, which surveyed adult residents aged 18 to 65 years old in Singapore, showed that Major Depressive Disorder, or depression, is more likely to be perceived as a weakness instead of an illness.”
In Singapore, thousands of people are diagnosed with depression. And that does not exclude the expat community, as we face more isolating stressors from living away from home. A story by the Global Business News reports that expats are far more likely to have mental health problems than U.S.-based counterparts.
Mental illness is funny that way- it does NOT discriminate among races, nationalities, genders or ages.
It affects all societies and we must raise our humanity to offer support and compassion for those who suffer.
Part of doing that is for people like me, an author and advocate for mental health, to educate people about the incidence of mental illness and that many people – like me – can live FULL and happy lives with treatment.
Promoting awareness gets people help and allows society to understand the conditions better so they don’t run in the other direction when someone says they are having mental health problems.
There are many types of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These conditions can all be treated with medication and therapy and absolutely there is hope for those who suffer.
But the sad reality is that those who do not receive treatment are at a high risk of suicide. In the United States, up to 20% of people diagnosed with these major mental illnesses die by suicide according to the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.
But together, all people can become educated on issues from recognizing warning signs of certain illnesses to supporting mental health funding and policy.
Please, if you meet someone who says they have a mental illness, show compassion rather than disdain.
Don’t make fun of “crazy people” or those that suffer from a mental health condition. And for the love of God (or whatever you believe in), don’t shut them out of social groups, jobs or any other opportunity for a normal life.
It is possible for people to recover. We just have to give them – and me – a chance.
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.