In America today there is a great stigma against those who have a mental illness.  The term mental illness (the term insanity will not be used because it is a legal term and no psychologist would use it to describe someone) is quite broad and can encompass conditions as small as mild depression to major schizophrenia.  How people arrive at these conditions likely varies from person to person; the classic argument of nature versus nurture always comes to mind.  Regardless of the causes of mental illness, the solutions to the problems that people have come up with appear to be ineffective because of the way public discourse on the subject goes.

For one thing the stigma attached to having a mental disorder prevents people from talking about it.  In large part mental illness is usually the preferred explanation for why someone went on a shooting rampage.  They may or may not have a mental illness, but it seems to be a distraction from access to guns.  Having the discussion go in this direction makes it seem as if everyone with a mental illness is a potential time bomb waiting to go off, and the possibility that someone is evil is absent from consideration.  This context creates an atmosphere that encourages people to look at the mentally ill out of the corner of their eye.  This cultural scenario encourages people to keep silent about their problems instead of seeking help.

Let us take a look at one issue related to mental illness; social isolation.  If one were to read psychology articles on a sporadic basis they would have come across many articles talking about how social isolation deteriorates mental health.  One bit of advice is to get out there and be around people, or just reach out to someone.  Following this bit of advice is easier said than done because not everyone knows where to begin.  Situations vary and this may not be a viable option for everyone because some people have no friends and family.  The first step to overcoming social isolation is being around people so how is it possible to get someone to be around others.

Making It to The Finish Line is far from a mental health institution, but in a way it does help the community by providing an environment of inclusion.  For kids it is an opportunity to not only be around their peers, but a way to discover talents which could boost their self-esteem.   For an adult-they could volunteer their time, thus giving them a chance to be around people and giving them the satisfaction that they are making a difference in the lives of young people.  If you or anyone you know are interested, you can call Gladys Pearson at 313-460-0596.

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