Thought on Mental Health and Stigma


Thought on Mental Health and Stigma

The demise of a young Bollywood actor from suicide has seen a rise in people posting on social media with assumptions about the cause of his death, how young he was, how successful his career was, and that he should've thought about his family before ending his life. Some have even made comments about the impulsivity and selfishness around suicide and suggested that mental health is simply "attention-seeking".

Can the loss of a young life to suicide be a reminder that it is anything but the above? A person who commits suicide IS NOT selfish, weak, or a coward. Mental health is NOT attention-seeking. Sometimes people DO REACH OUT, but their concerns are dismissed and/or people aren't really listening.

Mental health also does not discriminate and can affect anyone and everyone at any point in their life – whether they are a celebrity, a homeless person, or a 16-year-old high school student. How ignorant of us as a society to even label suicide as an act of a coward.

Mental health also does not discriminate and can affect anyone and everyone at any point in their life – whether they are a celebrity, a homeless person, or a 16-year-old high school student. How ignorant of us as a society to even label suicide as an act of cowardice and selfishness because "they didn't think about their family, career, wives children, etc". Most chances are that the person probably did think of their family and their life whilst battling a debilitating illness (think Cancer, except everybody, thinks you're lying or dismisses it by telling you to get over it), but it got too much to handle (remember, we are all differently built mentally as we are physically and not everybody is as resilient as you may be). A person going through mental health issues may have suffered their entire life, but our ignorant minds continue to perceive it as selfishness, sometimes even after their death.

Let suicide and mental health issues in our society be a reminder to be kind to one another, even a stranger because you just don't know what they may be going through. Let's broaden our understanding of mental health issues which is as debilitating as any other physical health issue, sometimes even more dangerous as it is invisible. The society that we live in continuously glorifies a strong image, even though the person may be breaking down on the inside, so let's drop the assumption that a happy face equates to a happy person. The next time somebody tries to talk to you about their issues, reflect on whether you are really listening with the intention of listening rather than judging. If we can destroy the stigma around mental health by educating ourselves, our friends, and family, we can break this cycle. Remember, the homeless person on your commute to work in tattered clothes who talks to himself may not be planning suicide, but your wealthy neighbor with two children and a wife may just be. Let's be vigilant, kind, supportive, and destroy the shame and stigma around mental health. The first step is to listen without judgment and have those uncomfortable conversations.

RIP Sushant Singh Rajput. I am sorry this world could not keep you safe.

Mehak Kamboj

Mehak Kamboj

Mehak Kamboj is currently working as Director of Area Mental Health Services CD at the Acute Mental Health Unit at Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand. She studied at University of Otago and lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She is basically from Moga, Punjab. She wrote articles on mental health and stigma.