Last Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton began the conversation about mental health again in their blogs for The Huffington Post. In their posts, they talked about why we need to reduce the stigma around mental health. "We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together," Obama says. Middleton focused her conversation on helping children — stigma and depression can begin as early as childhood — learn to express their feelings.
Why we need to keep the conversation going
Vox featured mental health in its November 2015 issue. But just because the story ended doesn't mean the conversation about it should. In high school, I had several friends who were dealing with mental health issues, and I felt some effects of it myself. It just now occurred to me that we never did anything about it. I would stay in bed all night crying and hoping the pains in my stomach would go away, and I felt the urge to run away and leave everything behind, but I never talked to my friends or family about it. I never suggested my friends seek help or even talk to me about it further; it just remained, like a heavy cloud in the air.
The bottom line is mental health is important. We all can seem like we have our lives together or like everything is perfect when it's really not. There are so many resources to help someone with mental health issues today that it's almost ridiculous there is so much stigma around it.
My uncle was almost killed in a car crash five years ago, and when my family was on our way to the hospital to visit him, we got into a crash that totaled our car. After that, I had anxiety every day I got behind the wheel to drive to school. I kept it locked up inside of me because I was afraid someone would make fun of me if I told them. Anxiety is not a joke. Depression is not a joke. Let's start treating them like the serious health issues they are.
Books and movies can show you that you're not the first person to be dealing with whatever feelings you have. Here are five great books and movies that properly depict people suffering with mental health:
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence team up in this movie about a man with bipolar disorder who is learning how to get his life back together after being released from a mental hospital. Lawrence's character doesn't have her life together either. Love doesn't fix everything, but it helps to know you're not alone.
2. The Catcher in the Rye
This book by J.D. Salinger follows teenager Holden Caulfield, who leaves school and goes to New York City for a few days. Caulfield is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life as he tells the story of his adventures to an authority figure in a mental health institution.
This book, which also has a film adaptation, is about Charlie Kelmeckis in his freshman year in high school. In a story that deals with drugs, young love, death and sexual abuse, we find out that life is a lot more complicated than what Kelmeckis shows the world.
4. Ordinary People
Both a movie and a book, this story is about Conrad Jarrett and his family as they work through the grief of Jarrett's brother's death. This upperclass family tries to maintain an perfect appearance while they try to deal with Jarrett's survivor guilt and suicide attempts.
Inside Out is a movie that shows the emotional complexities of a young girl. Why is she mad? Why is she rude to her parents? It reminds you that it's okay to not always be happy.
Mental health is as important as any other health-related issue. Let's help ourselves and each other get the help and attention we need.