“You Don’t Look Depressed”

The Lack of Awareness That Surrounds Mental Illness


Chart is Courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mary Webb, Staff Writer

“You don’t look depressed,” “Are you sure you aren’t just stressed,” and “You’re just too emotional,” are words heard every day by people suffering from mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are often dismissed on TV shows or films as wayward emotions. Depression, anxiety, and OCD are often used in casual conversation as simple emotions; however, mental illnesses are much deeper than a bad day or a stressful moment.

According to The Kim Foundation, an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma often associated with seeking mental health care,
over one-fourth of Americans age 18 and older suffer from diagnosable mental disorders in any given year, and about 6% suffer from serious mental disorders that affect their daily life. These disorders are something people don’t really want to talk about. Even more disturbing, nearly 20% of youth ages 13-18 suffer from a mental disorder. However this, as well, is not a topic of conversation in schools. Young people with mental illnesses are often afraid to speak up, for fear they won’t be understood or will be seen as a freak, especially by other students. A teacher or student could speak to someone in class every day for months and have no idea they were suffering with a mental illness.

Sometimes, a person with a physical illness is more open to conversation about their condition, while people suffering from mental illnesses may feel ashamed or feel as if it is their fault. A person suffering from mental illness can also be unfamiliar with the symptoms, and the condition can remain undiagnosed for up to 10 years, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental illness needs to be a topic for discussion in our schools so we can raise awareness and educate our society.