Robin Williams recent passing is truly sad and unfortunate. I don’t believe I have seen one of his movies, but I remember being exposed to his humor throughout my childhood. I remember he was on an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? And I thought he was a hilarious man.
I think Robin Williams and his passing opens discussion for mental health awareness. A lot of naive people seem to be confused about how a talented, funny, seemingly well-off man could have such problems. He was a man in the entertainment industry and he made millions of people smile. He never really looked depressed.
I think it is important to know that depression looks a lot like how asthma looks or how a brain tumor looks or how type one diabetes looks. Mental illness knows no gender, character, physical appearance, or income.
When I was younger I was told I didn’t look anxious. When I was younger I was really pleased to hear such a thing and would actually take it as a compliment. I felt anxious all of the time and at very severe levels. I thought I did a poor job of disguising how I felt. But now, when someone tells me that I don’t look anxious I become offended. When you live with a mental health disorder, you become accustom to the feelings you constantly are experiencing. I’m so used to being nervous all of the time, which is probably why it doesn’t show. If you knew my “tells” it would probably be more noticeable, too. And sometimes people feel the need to put up a façade to assure others not to worry about them.
I think a lot of the time people with mental health disorders don’t want others to worry about them because they feel there isn’t a lot other people can do. If mental health was taken more seriously in the U.S and was recognized more as an ailment, equivalent in severity as a chronic physical condition, than perhaps Americans would actually seek or better their treatment. The unfortunate truth is that the U.S does not recognize mental illness as anything worth fixing, and if they do they don’t appear to care all that much. About 60% of adults and almost one half of persons aged 8-15 with mental illness have received no help in the past year.
Approximately 61.5 million American adults experience mental illness in a given year. Approximately 20% of people aged 13-18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year and 13% of people aged 8-15 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. A severe mental disorder could be schizophrenia, severe depression, and bipolar disorder. The website I am using to gather these statistics (http://www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf) also mentions anxiety, which I personally believe could be noted as a severe mental disorder in certain cases.
It surprises me that so many people with mental disorders walk among us everyday, and yet there is still an incredible amount of ignorance on the topic of mental health.
And if you are still unsure that mental health disorders deserve more attention and that the general population should be informed on the topics, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, which is more common than homicides.
People with mental health disorders need to speak out about their problems and inform those who are ignorant on the topic of how life really is. People need to be informed that a lot of people who have mental health disorders live among us, and that we aren’t all “crazies” who have violent ways and deserve to be in jails. Mental illness is a serious thing, equivalent to physical conditions and deserves the exact same attention and respect as physical conditions receive.
RIP Robin Williams.