Romanticising mental illness needs to stop.

In today’s day and age, mental illness is a huge factor in everyone’s lives and genuinely effects one in four people at some point. Around 450 million people are currently suffering from various conditions, placing mental health disorders among the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. We know suicide is the silent killer so why do people keep promoting it and unconsciously idolizing all these disorders? Society as a whole has become infected with the delusion with the notion that mental illnesses and disorders are an enchanting trend to join for their social media. Romanticism of mental illness is leading to the creation of a façade on each person, it’s creating this false persona and quite frankly can waste people’s time when they think they are suffering. Doing this can snatch away the importance of mental health issues and portrays an unrealistic image of what can be going on inside a mentally ill person’s mind. People who are manifesting the signs of severe mental illness are more often ashamed of their limitations, yet here we are projecting insecurities for all to see which isn’t making sense at all. Glorifying of a mental illness can become dangerous and make us lose our heads in illusions and misconceptions.

Depression has become a topic of conversation for our generation. We increasingly self-diagnose ourselves when the internet spoon-feeds us symptoms. If a teenager feels down every time their relationship ends these toxic platforms encourage them to harass people with their feelings. Overall we increasingly have an overwhelming need to label ourselves to our peers and post all of them on social media, only for their next sad friend to see. And the vicious cycle continues. We aren’t realising the seriousness and long lasting effects depression has on some people and anyone who starts romanticising this is making a mockery of the illness. Having depression isn’t a trend and isn’t something to gloat about: millions of people will suffer silently with depression and let it engulf their entire lifestyle and affect them in ways that some people won’t even be able to comprehend. This disorder cannot be a tool to avoid responsibilities because you simply don’t feel like it.

Anxiety isn’t a cute trait: it’s not a trend to follow or a simple mental illness that somebody can simply overcome. Nothing you post on Snapchat about being antisocial can ever be related to how someone with anxiety feels. Anxiety is a mental illness that gives a person an overwhelming feeling of unease. Sound familiar? Most people will feel anxious before a big step in your life even if it’s before an exam or interview, this is not anxiety. This is not something you suddenly need to post whenever you feel anxious at any time, you could be belittling a genuine feeling of anxiety in one of your followers. Long-term anxiety however, can cause your brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis which can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and depression. Is it still a cute and quirky trait? Is it still a trend for you to post on your social media? Would you feel like it’s just a trend if one of your friends posted how they have been weaponized with crippling anxiety, leading to depersonalization or out of body experiences with a fear of losing control and dying?

It seems as though everyone is trying to win the race to prove they have it worse and nobody can beat their sadness. As though the more depressed you are, the longer list of self- diagnosed mental illnesses you have, the more popular you will become and how people will pay more attention. We really must have failed if this is the competition we want to battle each other in, if this is the path we have chosen to take as a society and fail to even comprehend how difficult life can be for those suffering. We are depriving those who are mentally ill of the actual help and attention they need by shoving their subtle hints aside and instead focussing on our own problems that can be solved.

Written by Young Reporter Hannah Wilson
First appeared in the Grimsby Telegraph 23rd July 2019