Are People with a Mental Illness Better Together?

Category: Opinion Pieces Published in Ink Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 Written by Richard J Bell

Are people with a Mental illness better together?

 

Are people with a Mental Illness better together? With the underlying tones of stigma in the community, some people have a tendency to group within a social circle of mental health. Although others feel consumed by the illness, to the extent they are out in the real world, but is it safe out there or should they be socialising with people who have the same experiences.

Stigma in society is generally better in the past five years, although there are some real reasons why people with a mental illness separate themselves from the community. Some people still view people with a mental illness as outcasts.

The days of locking away people forever are gone since the nineties in Australia. But attitudes still see mental illness as a threat. Even though people with a mental illness are more likely to self harm then harm others.

My worst experience with stigma was in 2007. I had started hearing hallucinations in class, but lacked the insight to realise it was a symptom. When the teacher realised I was in danger of harming myself, she asked the class if someone could drive me home.

After driving myself home I realised that there were real reasons why people with a mental illness separate themselves from the community.

Some people find great comfort in the company of others, with a mental illness. So much that they join large mental health non-profit organisations that cater to non-clinical needs of consumers. They find friends among like minded people, who have similar experiences.

There are people with a mental illness who need to separate themselves, as it is only one part of them. Finding a balance between doctor’s appointments and mental health orientated activities is important. They want to find acceptance, but at the same time put distance between them and the illness.

It is really up to the individual to decide to only socialise within mental health circles. This may work for some, but may not meet the needs of others. Depending on how educated the people are towards mental illness, it is really a decision the person has to make if they are comfortable surrounded by like minded people or with others who do not understand mental illness.

Socialising is an important part of recovery, although sometimes it can lead to situations that create problems. Some may not feel accepted in the real world due to stigma, and have the tendency to group together.

Richard Bell © 23rd September 2011

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