Ending the stigma is the first step in addressing mental health issues

When celebrities are impacted by mental illness and suicide, it leaves the world shaken and questioning why.

The loss of musician Chester Bennington, actor Robin Williams and many other legendary figures are still painful to remember. Just last week, the world once again lost two icons; fashion designer Kate Spade and chef, television personality and author Anthony Bourdain.

Tragedies like this are so gut wrenching for many of us because it is a painful reminder that even those who we put on a pedestal, those who seem to lead the kind of lives that we glamorize, can also be suffering.

Mental illness does not discriminate; it affects every kind of person in every part of the world.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that approximately one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness. Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness is the first step in addressing it head on.

In 2016, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 45,000 people took their own life in just the U.S. alone.

In the last 45 years, Befrienders Worldwide reported that suicide rates increased by 60 percent globally.

Unless we change how we address mental health, by 2020 the worldwide statistic will increase to one suicide every 20 seconds, according to Befrienders Worldwide.

Mental illness seems to still be a taboo subject of discussion. People are often worried they will say something offensive or are uneducated on what it can mean to have depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other illness.

People who struggle with mental illness can also feel isolated and unsure of how to get the proper help. Since mental illness is such a prevalent issue in our world, it should be talked about openly, rather than shied away from in regular conversation.

Mental illness is present in our everyday lives, whether it is in ourselves or in the people we care about. It seems as though mental illness and suicide are issues that are plaguing our world.

Therefore, we must begin taking steps to improve early on.

These steps can take place in the classroom, teaching children about the signs and symptoms to look for, resources to get help and that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Realizing that Spade and Bourdain felt a pain so unbearable that they resorted to suicide is an extremely difficult pill to swallow, but it does help in highlighting the problem surrounding the stigma on mental illness that our nation and our world are facing.

We must remember that nobody is immune to depression, anxiety or any other mental illness.

The issues that lead to suicide for many people can go undetected at first glance regardless of financial status, outward appearance or social blade.

As friends, family members, coworkers and human beings we cannot be afraid to reach out if we notice something concerning in the people around us.

Something as simple as lending a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on can make a world of a difference.

If you or someone you know are experiencing issues with mental health, help is available at the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or through the USF Counselling Center (813-974-2831).


Samantha Moffett is a junior majoring in mass communications.