Mental illness is a complex subject, and so easily misunderstood. The best way to fight stigma is with education, and often understanding the root cause of something can help clear up the fear, uncertainty, and aversion that feeds that stigma.
So…where does mental illness come from?
Genetics plays a big role in mental illness; in fact, all major mental health disorders have a link to inherited traits. Like other types of illness, sharing a mental illness with a family member is not guaranteed; however, depending on the disorder, heredity is a factor in 20-75% of cases. As our understanding of mental illness grows with advancements in science and technology, we're continuously learning more and more about these connections!
The other more obvious contributor to mental illness: trauma. Whether you're wrestling with past abuse or neglect, or have experienced a particularly difficult life event, trauma can lead to long-term struggles and--especially when left unaddressed--can lead to the development of mental health disorders.
Your community shapes your mental health more than you might think! Culture, location, socioeconomic factors, and so much more can contribute to your mental health, and can even lead to mental illness. Everything from aesthetics to sensory triggers can impact your mental wellbeing, as can your work environment.
Yes, even your habits can contribute to your mental health! Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to addiction and mental health issues, as can things as simple as habitual negative thoughts, lack of exercise, inconsistent food patterns, social media use, and more. Little, even unconscious choices can make a big difference in your overall mental health, so it’s always a good idea to take note of potential triggers when you find yourself struggling.
Remember: Mental Illness is NOT a Choice.
Mental illness is so heavily stigmatized that often it’s treated as if the people with the illness choose their symptoms. It is important to remember that having the illness and the symptoms and triggers that come with it is not a choice in any way. Empathy is always valuable and appreciated, and kindness, patience, and respect for the dignity of the person matter. Stay PUNK, and remember that you are not alone in your struggles!