More and more people nowadays struggle with mental illness in varying degrees of intensity and severity. One reason for this has to do with the very nature of modern life, which is stressful, demanding and fast-paced. While this can be beneficial when it keeps you on your feet and focused on success, it is also detrimental once it turns into a burden.
A lot of us crack under pressure from time to time. Some have a harder time bouncing back from it though, and it’s time everyone understood that that’s perfectly fine. Mental illness shouldn’t come with a stigma attached to it and it shouldn’t be a reason to belittle or dismiss others off the bat.
We need to practice love and understanding in order to build a better world. Empathy is the biggest weapon we have against the troubles of life because it gives everyone a chance to help their peers, which is fulfilling for both sides. But just how important is it in the pursuit of healing? Let’s find out.
Attitudes towards Mental Illness
Psychology and psychiatry are relatively new sciences that are still fighting for respect in the medical community. However, their discoveries are some of the most relevant that humanity has made up to date because they give us a priceless opportunity to better understand what goes on inside the complex human mind.
The advance of medicine has uncovered much more about mild schizophrenia, clinical depression, bipolar disorder and all the other conditions on the spectrum than there was available in the days of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. And yet, there is still plenty of stigma surrounding mental illness to this day.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, many of the 450 million people in the world that suffer from disorders of the mind are subject to discrimination due to it. This impedes both their professional and personal lives in a negative way because plenty of “healthy” people see them as unstable and even dangerous.
For this reason, someone understanding their struggle can be a true guiding light during dark times. A simple act of kindness can change someone’s life, which is why being empathetic with those in need of it can have far wider beneficial ramifications than you’d think. After all, Karl Jaspers introduced it as a tool of psychology more than a century ago for good reason.
And it’s not only a great way to help others, but also one help yourself. By practicing and preaching compassion in your life, you will feel less stressed and more satisfied with your existence. And if you’re the one struggling with an affliction, it will give you a chance to stop being too harsh on yourself.
The Importance of Empathy
The majority of mental disorders are characterized by a gnawing feeling of being misunderstood, mistreated and misrepresented. And unfortunately, when no one takes the time to prove you wrong on this, symptoms tend to worsen due to a collapse in self-esteem and hope of getting better.
Nevertheless, people can’t be expected to show compassion when they lack the proper knowledge in this field. A 2017 study on mental health literacy conducted on 129 volunteers has shown that being educated on the topic and exhibiting empathy towards patients go hand in hand.
The relation has the potential to be a rather fruitful one, but awareness has to exist in the first place for it to form. Fortunately, we have more resources on hand today than we ever did before. The World Wide Web is an endless treasure chest of data, research, advice and personal stories that have the ability to teach us great things.
All that’s left for us to do is embrace them. This is equally important when someone you love has to cope with mental illness as it is when you are in that position yourself. You know the old saying according to which knowledge is power? In this case, it’s the power to defeat your demons or help someone else do it in their own life.
There isn’t a universal, one size fits all type of formula for this. In fact, it’s a trial and error process, and getting it right might take a while. But the results are worth it because they consist of renewed hope and an ability to live a better life free of the burden of your own mind. therefore, don’t fear the difficulties that lie ahead.
You need to understand that quitting is sometimes a necessary part of getting better. Everyone is embarked on their own journey and they have their personal cross to bear, so if they feel like giving up on something that has become toxic, don’t try to stop them. It’s not your job. Or allow yourself to let go if you’re the one fighting.
Everyone knows that life’s what you make it. Let this be an opportunity to make yours a compassionate existence based around helping those in need, as well as healing yourself. Only in this way will you be able to embrace the beauty and diversity that surrounds us, and give something back to the community.
First published in April 2018; updated April 2022