By Gisselle Hernandez, Features Editor
I’ve written a column about mental health before for Suicide Awareness Month, but despite it being 2017, certain stigmas surrounding mental health are ever-present. I’m really, really thrilled to see it is being addressed more than in past years when if you were depressed, people thought you were weird or something was wrong with you. But there’s so much more work to be done.
Over the break, I read this fascinating novel by Jennifer Niven about a young man suffering from bipolar disorder. In her author’s note, she said she lost two people in the span of 14 months – one to cancer and one to suicide. She said the reactions could not have been more different – “people rarely ever bring flowers to a suicide.”
This generation, despite all the criticism we get, understands better than anyone we should speak up if we feel something is wrong. In my family, especially amongst the older generations, topics like these are taboo, and I am tired of having the deteriorating health of a relative because of depression be swept under the rug. Or it being blamed on something else. Or just labeling it as “being sad.” It’s infuriating. So much is targeted at young women who are insecure about their bodies to do this regimen to get thin fast, or to get the new must-have concealer to cover those freckles, or give up foods that make them happy because they want that summer body. All these women who try these things aren’t receiving what they need most: happiness with who they are. As the charming “Stranger Things” star Shannon Purser said, scrolling through social media feeds, you see more articles of “Ways to lose weight fast” than “Ways to improve mental health.” Those with visible illnesses receive more sympathy and support than those suffering internally. Just this week I saw an actual article – an entire news story – about Kendall Jenner breaking out in acne. Are you serious? The entire piece was about her pimples. Literally. How can these women not feel criticized or the need to always be glammed up with makeup if they are dragged for being less than perfect? Instead of focusing on how the glam life is making models break out in acne, we should focus on how crazy the modeling life is that it sends people into deep depression (see: Cara Delevingne.)
People suffering from mental illnesses need as much support and help as those with the cancer. We need to stop acting like it’s something to be ashamed of or something that doesn’t exist, because it is very much real. People need to know they’re not alone. And neither are you.