THE trend in today's society is that silence, shame, stigma and ignorance still exist around the burning global issues of mental health.
It is imperative that all of us fight against the silence and fight for the dignity for sufferers of mental illness.
We should assess the "name and blame" game. People who suffer from mental illness should not be seen as outsiders or be isolated and rejected by their workplace, churches, communities and neighbourhoods, and their families and loved ones.
They should be embraced and accepted for who they are so that they can retain a sense of self-sufficiency and self-respect, and return to society as productive human beings who are capable of interacting with their peers and colleagues in every sphere and realm of life. We must take cognisance of the daily tragedies of stigmatisation which must be fought tooth and nail.
People often find they are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to confronting people or coming into contact with people who suffer from mental illness. There are many people who suffer in silence from mental illness out there.
People who do not suffer from mental illness significantly or do not come into direct contact with it, for example as would be if a family member or close friend suffers from it, often feel uncomfortable, irritated or annoyed at the behaviour of someone who does. They can't explain, accept or tolerate that kind of behaviour that is often humiliating for the person who is suffering, and they find it difficult to understand and cope with that kind of knowledge.
People must be taught to appreciate another person's point of view when it comes to the issue of mental health. Health ignorance is not bliss.
We should wise up and recognise the familiar outpourings of guilt and calls for forgiveness from sufferers. It is time for both sufferers and their families to stand in the gap, accept and work towards making new inroads and daily breakthroughs in our own lives, and let sufferers of mental illness learn from their painful past and personal experience.
Often experiences can be humiliating and hurtful, and can bring negative images and feelings to mind for the sufferer, especially if he or she is suffering from depression.
It is time for the knowledge of personal growth, the awareness of mental health and the physical and emotional wellbeing of men, women and children across the spectrum to be shared and respected in support groups. People who suffer from mental illness must always be motivated to achieve happiness, longevity and productivity in their lives.
Stigmatisation is a toxic syndrome. It leads people to believe people who suffer from mental illness are "crazy", "nuts" or "psycho", and that they are beyond any form of simple help like caring, kindness, acceptance or even tolerance for who they are as human beings.
The more people who suffer and their families speak about the trials of living daily with a mental illness, the less blatant, hurtful, painful, embarrassing, humiliating and prevalent the stigma will be. Being outspoken about the stigma will not be easy. It will come with its own drawbacks and setbacks.
The people who are outspoken about mental health issues will sometimes find themselves being isolated, alienated, demotivated and rejected in certain social circles of society who see mental illness as a "crutch" or as an excuse to get out of their daily responsibilities and a livelihood. The best way to seek resolutions when confronted with a situation beyond your control or dealing with someone who is mentally ill is always to remain open-minded and giving.
Know your boundaries, where you draw them and the person's limitations.
Abigail George and AC George, Port Elizabeth