Why is it that some people still see mental illnesses as fake or made up things – things that are simply talked about for the purpose of getting attention? I’m not saying that this is the main idea floating around our society, but it is scarily common. Somehow, these people have decided that, because you can’t see it, it’s not real. Anyone can say they are unhappy, but no one can prove it; therefore, depression doesn’t exist, right? Wrong.

Telling someone with a mental illness “you’re not really sick, it’s all in your brain” is like telling someone with asthma “you’re not really sick, it’s all in your lungs.” Your brain is a part of your body. Let me repeat that. Your brain IS a part of your body. It’s a vital organ that is just as important as your lungs or your heart. It makes you who you are and allows you to complete all of the things your body can do. Your brain is 100% a part of your body. When someone breaks their leg, everyone rushes to the rescue. Doctors perform life-saving surgeries on people’s hearts. Even our teeth get special care when necessary. Somehow, however, the brain isn’t important enough to receive the same level of care. Somehow, mental health issues can still be seen as non-existent or not important.

Did you know Vincent Van Gogh used to eat yellow paint in attempt to feel happiness? Yes, you read that right. He literally ingested a toxic substance because he thought it would get the happiness inside him. Obviously, that’s insane and most definitely is not how happiness works, but I think it goes to show the desperation people have when it comes to feeling happiness and joy. Can you imagine being so unhappy that you convince yourself that eating yellow paint will make you feel better? If you were so unhappy that even the most insane idea – like painting the walls of your internal organs yellow – could possibly work, then you would try it. If you think about it, people do that every day. People do drugs and fall further and further into unhealthy relationships every day. Sure, there is a greater risk of overdosing or getting your heart broken, but people who do these things don’t care. The chance that it could make things better almost always outweighs the possibility of negative effects.

Depression is not a choice, it’s a disease. There are schools that focus more on children’s social and emotional wellbeing and see significant improvements in academic achievement as well as in student behavior. Doctors have been found to make faster and more accurate diagnoses when they are happy. These and so many other things prove that our mental wellbeing shows itself in other areas of our lives so, while we can’t see the exact disease or disorder, we sort of can if we look close enough

Mental health is so important yet so easily dismissed. If you email a teacher saying you have a fever and can’t come to class, you’re often sent a nice “feel better soon” email along with the contents of the missed class. If you email the same teacher saying you were feeling too depressed to get out of bed for class, you’re likely to receive no response or a vague and off-standish email bluntly stating what you missed. Why is it that we have such a stigma towards mental health? Forgive me, but I’m going to pull the “it’s the twenty-first century” card. Seriously, though. How long is it going to take for us to move away from a society that frowns upon those struggling with mental illness? Let’s create a society in which people don’t feel like they have to eat yellow paint to obtain happiness and improve our outlook on mental health.

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