No matter what culture you embrace and no matter your race or upbringing, there is something that binds us all together: our human psychology. If there is one thing that we can all understand across borders, it is this. And yet, the mind remains to be one of the most mysterious aspects of a person. So much that we ourselves are reluctant to share what goes on within.

The subject of mental health is steeped in so much stigma that it’s not even considered “normal” to talk about it with our peers. To many people, simply talking about mental health raises issues about the speaker’s wellbeing. Open talk about the subject is usually reserved for those who have outright issues. No one wants to be labelled as “mad”, “disturbed”, or “unhinged”, after all.

Yet, this very same stigma is complicit in the rising tide of unattended mental health concerns across the world. Because of the fear of being labeled, people tend to hide away in their own minds, refusing to seek help even if this is badly needed. It would be easier, they reason, to handle these problems themselves than be opened to ridicule. It is a vicious circle, and the sad part is that the orchestrations of the government and the various concerned institutions are not enough on their own to stop the cycle.

And then, when things finally grow too tough to handle, these troubled people seek refuge in distractions, drugs, or even the afterlife. Back in 2015, for example, the suicide rate in Australia is at its peak after more than 10 years. And in 2016, there are more than three million drug users in the country — many of them suffering from various mental pressures.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The greatest temptation when facing any mental concerns is to keep it private, perhaps to wait for it to resolve itself. We offer some interventions which could probably help.

Seek the support of your family and community. As no man is an island, no man should endure the pains of the mental pressures alone. If there is anyone who can understand your troubles, it’s your family and friends. Start it simple: talk to them, tell them about your problems, and just have them listen. This is where everything begins, and you will be surprised at how much weight this simple act will take off from your mind.

Seek help from the government. Australia puts a premium on mental health in order to keep its citizens happy and productive. From the government to charity organisations like Mental Health Australia, there are interventions available to help everyone from all sectors of society. What’s more, taking part in programs supported by these bodies will place you in a discrimination-free environment.

Everybody has a role

But the need to take action does not only apply to those who feel the need for mental health interventions. The only true way to defeat the stigma is for the community at large to act as one and cultivate a culture of acceptance. Only by creating an open environment where those suffering from life’s various pressures could express themselves, and by nurturing an understanding community where everyone works for the common good of everyone else — physical, mental, and psychological — would we be able to eradicate this silent, yet deadly scourge.

  • The Philippine Times, February 2018 edition

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