Whether you know it or not, everyone comes in contact with mentally ill people. There are 75 million Americans or about 1 in 3 that suffer from a mental illness according to psychcentral. 
With all the horrible news about what extremely mental ill people have done lately it’s important to remember all mentally ill people regardless of the outcomes are good people at the core. Unfortunately, their potential as fellow human beings can be overlooked and replaced with fear. These extreme cases are the exception and not the norm but unfortunately they get the most attention.
Fear is incredibly powerful to our psyche. Fear can cripple our thoughts and causes us to avoid what we don’t understand. Mental illness today is very misunderstood. First, the name. It’s an outdated term that seems to only be associated with the worst cases and if you’re mentally ill you’re doomed to a life of craziness and you can’t do anything to change it, just have to deal with it.
Wrong. Mental illness is not a life sentence. This one of the most common misconceptions. Also, there are mild, average, and severe symptoms. There is help including but not limited to talk therapy, medication, and a supportive network of friends and family.
If a mentally ill person has access to the above three forms of help they can and will likely lead a very full and wonderful life. The problem is the is a huge stigma that is stubborn and refuses to go quietly in our society.
Speaking from experience, the biggest barrier for people to get help for mental illness is unsupportive friends and family. This comes from the outdated stigma. Instead of trying to hide it, we must talk openly about it just like any other health condition. Another barrier is the shortage of psychiatrists. We must encourage more people to go into this field so people have better access. Lastly, we must support social safety net programs for the most at risk people for mental illness like the homeless.
I hope after reading this you’ll believe that mental illness is not something to be afraid of. Hug, love, and help support someone with a mental illness today!
About the author:
I also suffer from mental illness with average severity and have the support I need to lead a healthy and full life. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (type II), anxiety, and ADHD. I take Celexa for the anxiety and Wellbutrin for bipolar. The medication doesn’t cure me, it helps make my condition manageable. Also, I talk with a therapist twice a month and have a loving and supportive family. Bipolar disorder is very prevalent in my family, so they are so supportive. One thing missing however is support from society. My family encouraged me to get help which made a huge difference. However, I still fear being judged by my mental illness and be treated like less of a person.
Read more about my personal struggle with bipolar disorder: Just another Manic Monday
 Source: John M. Grohol, Psy.D, Psychcentral.com
Image credit: Wikihow.com