“End the stigma.”
You hear it all the time. One of the best ways you can help those who suffer from a mental illness is by learning and understanding what it is – and also what it isn’t. People are constantly invited to start a conversation, as talking about mental health can make a profound difference in the way society views those who battle with it every day. The scary truth is that 1 in 4 people across the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives (World Health Organization). Yet, despite the ubiquity, discrimination and stigma prevent nearly two-thirds of those who suffer from seeking out help or treatment. It is imperative for us to recognize these disorders not as personal failures, but as treatable conditions.
After receiving the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, a film about a man living with bipolar disorder, Jennifer Lawrence utilized her backstage interview as a gateway to approach the sensitive topic of mental illness; saying, “It’s so bizarre how, in this world, if you have asthma, you take asthma medicine; if you have diabetes, you take diabetes medicine. But, as soon as you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it” (Thompson 2). And so, as these cases become more of a commonplace, it seems necessary to explore the costs and benefits of extensively discussing and revisiting these problems. Although it is a relatively ultramodern theory, researchers like to refer to this circumstance as “co-rumination.” Social media not only provides a platform for, but also encourages the act of co-rumination among students.
The word “ruminate” is derived from the Latin phrase ruminare which quite literally refers to the process in which cows chew, swallow, regurgitate, and re-chew their food. The modern use of this word, however, is identified as the compulsively focused attention on one’s feelings of distress. While the process of rumination may fuel a cow’s digestion habits, it’s less of an advantageous technique for people. It is often characterized as a personal mechanism; however, once these internalized opinions are voiced, the opportunity for feedback and outside influence is presented. This is called co-rumination. Co-rumination involves repetitive, problem-focused conversation among peers, and it is often associated with counterproductive coping strategies such as internalizing problems (Meador 12). Although discussing problems is customarily a normal behavior, experts believe that this process may, “hinder the use of problem solving and other adaptive coping mechanisms, potentially allowing depressive symptoms and mental health problems to worsen over time” (Landphair, J. and Preddy, T. 19).
Seeking social support may be a very fruitful strategy for some students to deal with a mental illness, but those who learn to rely on others for emotional backing tend to experience more emotional distress rather than less. Why is that? Well, studies have shown that friends tend to be alike; ergo, anxious and depressed individuals are likely to seek support from equally negativistic friends (Smith-Schrandt 2). The problem with this is that conferring with another depressed individual is inclined to result in despondent emotions; therefore, no further than the person was before. Some students find solace in a roommate or friend with whom they spend hours talking. However, if the conversation takes a shift towards feelings of dissatisfaction or obsessive thinking habits, these students are likely to remain in that pattern of melancholy and find themselves taking two steps back rather than a step forward.
(Wear Your Label)
Wear Your Label is a modern fashion movement created by two individuals who battled with their own mental health — Kayley and Kyle. Their aim is to encourage others to take ownership of their mental illness rather than fall victim to the labels that society creates. To support this, 10% of their profits are donated to mental health initiatives.
WYL recently began to sew self-care tips onto the tags of their shirts for those who need a gentle push or reminder every now and then. This organization creates a conversation about mental illness in an appropriate and positive manner rather than ruminating on the negative emotions behind these agonizing disorders.
Join the #WYLFamily and get involved by checking out their website.