Don’t Tell Me Just to Suck It Up

Kayla Lien, Opinion Editor

Talking about mental illness is hard in a society that likes to sweep it under the rug. Those who do speak out about it are often ostracized from society, judged for talking about an issue that is detrimental to this country’s success. At least 1 in 5 American adults suffer from a mental illness in a year, so why is this society so adamant on staying quiet?


This public stigma, this negative mark or preconception, makes it hard to ask for help and places a bad outlook on treatment. When media portrays mental illness inaccurately or as a character flaw, it enforces the stigma against those with disorders. It’s hard to indulge something that talks negatively about a person like yourself. When the villian of a show commits their deeds on the basis of an illness you have, it’s easy to associate yourself with that. Mentally ill are the butt of jokes, the plot point, the throwaway character that never really gets help.


These widespread misconceptions affect the ability of those to get help for something that is potentially life-threatening. 60% of people affected with a serious disorder don’t seek treatment.


Mental health professionals are portrayed as bumbling, unhelpful, wacky characters, or like they should be in the patients’ chair themselves. For instance, Hannibal Lecter was both a psychiatrist and a cannibal. Not someone you would want to be treating you.


The media romanticizes self-destructive behaviours like self-harm and suicide. Hit TV shows like ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ sensationalize the act of killing oneself, making it seem like all your problems go away once you die, and exploiting a serious problem among our youth. has the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide, created by consulting with several suicide intervention services and public health organizations amongst other things. It was created because over 50 research studies worldwide have shown that the way media covers suicide has a direct impact on public health. 13 Reasons Why violated every single guideline. In the series, Hannah Baker leaves behind 13 cassette tapes documenting why she killed herself and it’s seen as twistedly romantic. She blames everyone but herself for her problems, effectively telling teens that the best option is to die and make everyone else pay for it.


That’s not how people should deal with their problems, nor how the media should bring light to it. Therapy and medication shouldn’t be so demonized. Media portrays being medicated in the same light it gives mental illness itself. It’s perfectly fine to tell someone you’re taking antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection but you can’t say you’re taking antidepressants. It’s an unspoken, yet widely acknowledged, law. The reality of psychiatric medications is that some people just don’t produce enough of the right chemicals in their brain to keep them stabilized and literally has nothing to do with one’s personality or lifestyle.


Occupational therapy and psychiatric wards are seen as harrowing places horror movies love to use. Padded cells, straight jackets, and shackles are the immediate images that come to mind when thinking of psychiatric wards. Preconceptions are twisted by movies like Bedlam and many still believe that modern mental hospitals treat their patients inhumanely. In fact, the word “bedlam” has come to mean “a scene of uproar or confusion” in the English language. Yet, during the 1900s, widespread reforms came and made isolated, long-stay hospitals into community mental health services that are bright and supportive places to be.


On the other side of media representation, American rapper Logic released a single titled “1-800-273-8255,” which is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (NSPL) number. He wrote it after hearing fan’s emotional stories of how his music saved their lives’. The song’s first hook and verse is from the perspective of a suicidal person calling the hotline, but develops into a plea for the listener to stay alive. After it’s release, the hotline saw a call increase of 27%, and following the night of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, the NSPL experienced a 50% surge in the number of calls, as a result of the performance of the song.


Doctors wouldn’t leave someone bleeding out in their lobby, so why are those with mental illness brushed off? A mental illness is a physical illness; it prohibits day-to-day activities and life expectancy. When society starts treating mental illness the way we do physical disorders, healthcare will burst forth with innovation.


Asking for help and admitting that something is wrong, is hard. Not everyone understands mental illness, or that it really is a condition that affects everyday life. Telling someone with depression to “just get over it,” is like telling someone in a wheelchair to “just stand up.” They can’t; that’s the point. Telling someone with anxiety to “suck it up and stop being a baby,” is directly dismissing their worry and invalidating their feelings. We have a society that likes to label people as “special snowflakes” as if they’re making up their mental illness. This causes actual sufferers of mental illness to not seek help, because “what if I don’t actually have any problems,” “what if I’m deliberately hurting my loved ones,” “what if I’m just seeking attention”?


As a minor, it seems hard to acquire mental health help. Yet, we have school counselors who are here to listen and help you. Teen Vogue published an article documenting where and how teens can receive mental health help, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine has a resource page for kids and teens. aims to teach teens about mental disorders and has access to help and health resources. The Trevor Project aims to “provide crisis intervention and suicide intervention for LGBTQ youth,” and has a 24-hour Lifeline one can text or call whenever they need. Mental Health America has a list of resources about paying for care including how to obtain care without insurance coverage and how to get help paying for medication, as well as a hotline people can text or call. Being in such a compromising situation is hard in every walk of life, but you don’t have to go it alone. There’s a world of help out there and resources are in abundance and readily available.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Adolescent Suicide Hotline: 800-621-4000

TrevorLifeline: call 866-488-7386 or text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200

Mental Health America: call 1-800-273-8255 or text “MHA” to 741741

Help Finding a Therapist: 1-800-843-7274

Crisis Text Line: text “HOME” to 741741

National Alliance on Mental Illness: text “NAMI” to 741741