Mental health is a vital part of the health and contributes equally as physical health to overall wellbeing of an individual. Good health of the youth is essentially significant for a nation as they will build the future of the country. In Australia, mental health illnesses is the chief source of the burden of disease among young people. Among the illnesses, the most frequently observed are depression, anxiety, and drug use (Sawyer, Miller-Lewis, & Clark, 2007). “Alike” is a short film exploring the struggle of youth in maintaining creativity while balancing school. There are two protagonists character in the film, the son named “Paste” and the father named “Copi”. The two characters lead busy life in which they are conditioned to follow a system. The son had to follow the rules of school while the father had to pursue the office regulations. The setting of the film is in a colorless city which doesn’t hold creativity in its environment or among the inhabitants. But the two protagonists are colorful and the color is metaphorically conveyed throughout the story to look at and compare the absence of creativity within the setting and the characters. At the start of the film, father gets ready for work and prepares Paste for school. Other colored character found was a violinist playing in a park. Paste was attracted to the violinist but Copi takes him to school. Even the father was shown colorless when he came to office to work. While the son is at school, he attempts to be creative by drawing doodles instead doing school work. Later, on meeting his son after the office, he regained his color back. This routine is followed for days which made Paste less creative at school and both the characters unhappy which caused both of them to lose color. But Copi tries to make his son happy by taking him to the violinist but he was absent from the park. So, Copi mimics the performance of the violinist in the park and made his son and himself happy. Various close-ups and medium sequences captured the facial expressions and body postures, which expressed the conflict and the relationship between the Paste and Copi.
Mental health should not be seen as merely absence of a psychological illness. Mental health is a term which covers several states of mental health, ranging from the mental disorders which can be diagnosed to good mental wellbeing. A good mental health state needs more than the lack of mental health issues. Wellbeing is linked with experiences of personal growth, internal motivation, constructive connections, self-sufficiency and abilities. It is essential that to lead a healthy, happy and satisfied life, I must have a well-developed mental and emotional development and growth. I believe if I do not have a healthy mind which has a normal functioning, it will lead to negative consequences which may or may not be visible to the outside world in the form a mental illness. Like in the short film, when Paste felt the mental stress, his creativity was curbed which is a negative consequence that might not be visible to everyone. I believe it is especially relevant during the early stages as nobody will be able to see and interpret the subtle early signs of the disorder. My mental wellbeing is directly related to my academic excellence, accomplishments and satisfaction in my coming life. I believe the focus on academic achievement is extremely high which subsides the emphasis on maintaining wellbeing of the students. I feel that since in our education system exam results and academic achievement remains the prime focus, it puts a negative influence on my mental health due to stress of studies, competition, fear of failure, deadlines and other factors. Like in the short film, the focus was if Paste was getting the alphabets written right and the creative drawing was ignored. Further, with my experience of watching other people’s struggle with mental health issues, I believe, if the negative effects will be ignored, then the resulting mental health issues can obstruct my social development as well which can isolate me socially and make me unhappy. I have seen other people drop out of the college or being involved in the substance abuse in order to overcome the negative effects. I also believe mental illnesses can affect my ability to build and maintain a helpful social circle or associations with my friends and other acquaintances. During my academic life, I spent most part of their day in school, college and university. When I spend such massive hours in in the lecture room, the educational institutions can offer a perfect setting for encouraging mental wellbeing and also identify early behavioral alterations and signs of mental illness. The social and emotional abilities, information and actions that I discover in the classes can assist me in getting a resilient character and build a pattern for way in which I can regulate their mental health across the lifespan (Nguyen, Dedding, Pham, & Bunders, 2013).
Several researches have proved that adolescence is the prime age of development of mental health illnesses as around half of the patients occur before the age of 14 years (Kessler, et al., 2005). Due to the early onset of the mental disorders and majority of the youth in Australia goes to acquire secondary and post-secondary education, the prevalence of mental disorders is particularly increasing in colleges and universities. We can see that a young adult who suffer from a serious mental health disorder may be substantially damaged due to the disorders which may subsequently lead to a disability state. I believe that the school years are central in building social and emotional abilities and skills. The schooling period lays down a model for the manner in which young person will handle his/her own mental wellbeing in the later years. The literature also suggests that one-third of all the diagnosable mental illnesses that an individual faces is linked with the negative events of his/her childhood. In spite of the huge influence of childhood experiences on adulthood wellbeing, school has been a major stressor in children’s life. One of the studies also suggested that 66% of primary school students reported that they anxious the entire time regarding at least one thing to do with their home life or school life (Place2Be, 2017). We know that school-related stress is among the leading factors that cause mental health issues among young people. I have seen that the students having depression, anxiety or stress is increasing. Like we see in the short film, that Paste’s creativity level reduced when the stress from school to do well increased which also declined his creativity levels. I believe if my mental health problems can influence my academic growth, and can even have lasting negative consequences on my health, and social and occupational situations as well. Literature also suggests on my condition that since I have mental health issues have reduced chances than my mates to attain educational qualifications, and I will have more chances of taking considerable period of break from school or face exclusion. In addition, it is also told my expert that my emotional health during my childhood is the most significant indicator of life satisfaction and personal consequences in my adulthood. I think that the schools alone doesn’t have the adequate capacity and resources required to both teach and work against various impediments in education faced by the students like me who are disadvantaged mentally. Literature suggests that to build provision for students like me, collaboration between parents, families and societies will be useful. Such collaborations can offer the required resources and assistance to schools to assist in dealing with the complex student requirements (Dix, Slee, Lawson, & Keeves, 2011). These kinds of collaborations have been proven to be a safeguard for children like me as these encourage positive mental health and assist to ease environmental teaching and social impediments and in doing so improve my academic and social skills. Like in the short film we saw that the parent was able to make his son happy by giving a nod to his creative instincts.
I believe with the rise in the prevalence of youth with mental health issues in society including educational and social settings, there is a growing need to be familiar with the influence of views of the societies on mental illness. It is only obvious that only after exploring the various issues of mental health, one can better understand my experiences. I believe if we review the historical developments that form the attitudes of society towards me and other people facing these issues, we will be able to attain an enhanced insight as to existing conceptualizations and social-political effects that are present about mental disorder. The most historical view regarding mental illness and disability is the moral model that views the disorders as deficits or weaknesses occurring due to sins, malice, or a drift in faith (Roush & Sharby, 2011). As per this view, I would have encouraged to isolate and go in hiding from the society which might have inculcated the feelings of shame in me. I would have been dealt with sympathy and pity by other people. This view saw a switch to a view based on medicine which altered society’s beliefs and behaviors. This is one of the frequently held view by the people which sees mental health illnesses as abnormality and pathological issue. As per this view also, mental health illnesses are seen as flaw within me but this view proposes that medical professionals of the community can try to heal me by removing the flaws so that I become capable of functioning well in the society like the normal people without any mental disorder. The medical view frequently assumes that I can regulate the mental impairment as if I have control over it. But I believe this should be disregarded as the society has come to believe that individuals with mental disorders unlike physical illness are responsible for their own illnesses. The most recent view of mental health problems is the social model. The social view has moved the emphasis from the person to matters of outside environment and society in general. As per this view, mental health is regarded as a result of social and ethical aspects that may have afflicted me. This view proposes that an individual with a socially outlined mental or physical disorder, is unable to perform at the potential if put in an environment that is not prepared for or mindful of to him/her. I believe significant model shifts in views about the mental health disorders have yet to create an enduring attitudinal change in our society. With advent of the social view of mental health disorders, issues of mental disorders have been included in the health reforms largely. In addition, the views of society have changed so that people like me who have mental disorder can accept my condition as a part of my identity and also ask for assistance to be able to succeed in my school and other social settings (Gammon, 2013).
The economic and historical aspects that have shaped the social structures have built and sustained prejudice and discrimination against mental disorders (Corrigan & Lam, 2007). I experience two different kinds of stigmas, one is the stigma from the public which I generally face as the reaction of the general community to my disorder while other is the self-stigma which I experience sometimes as I have internalized the stigma of my social settings and I often see myself applying various stereotypes to myself (Eisenberg, Downs, Golberstein, & Zivin, 2009). I often see other stereotyping me with traits such as unable, unattractive, harmful, unreliable, inefficient, and unpredictable (Wood & Wahl, 2006). I have been perceived and labelled as different traits due to my mental disorder. Literature suggest that there are various elements in the development and sustenance of stigma against mental illness. One element is that the social and educational settings emphasize on a socially selected human difference that is differentiated from others and characterized. Another element is that the label assigned by these settings is related to a stereotype such as unreliable, unpredictable, etc. The labeling and damaging stereotyping is followed by exclusion from these settings, that is I am considered as “them”, while the rest of the peers in the class are considered as “we”. Lastly, due to this segregation discrimination occurs and the stigmatized people like me undergo loss of the status, rejection, and isolation. The labelling and falsified views regarding my mental illness due to the stigmatization has impacted the views of people around me as some of them regard me as dangerous and it has led to social distancing. I believe that the social and educational settings around me have supported the discrimination as it is rooted in their attitudes of fear, unfamiliarity, and intolerance of mental illnesses (Johnstone, 2001). Some people have gone further to make my illness as a subject of joke, despise, and humiliation. In some settings, mocking the mentally ill people is still culturally accepted such as by using prejudiced language. It must be noted that the result of this stigmatization has been deeply dehumanizing and completely distancing for me as well as my family as it propagates biasness that refuses me the moral rights to various issues that the normal individual without mental disorder undervalue and don’t appreciate enough. It is essential to integrate anti-stigma efforts in various social and educational settings. The incorrect impression of the mental disorder is due to restricted opportunities for awareness about these issues in these settings. I believe the mass media needs to be very careful while depicting people with mental disorder. Instead of showing them as dangerous and useless, they should be shown in a positive light so that we could overcome the negative stereotyping. The stigma against mental disorder also prevents people from taking and getting the support services they require. I believe, that most of the settings I spend time in are judgmental and view my illness as character weakness or moral failings. So, I believe such judgmental attitudes should be changed especially by the professionals in the support services so that students with mental disorders can seek the required assistance.
The number of young people experiencing a range of mental health issues is on the rise. Mental health should not be seen simply as absence of a diagnosable disease. Rather, there is a whole spectrum of mental health issues that an individual can experience. Majority of the mental disorders of adulthood have their onset in the childhood and adolescence and therefore, the mental health of the youth is particularly significant. Historically, society has seen mental illnesses with different views. The attitude of the society has changed from moral to medical to social views regarding mental disorders. The youth experiences the public stigma as well as the self-stigma from the different educational as well as social settings which should be prevented.
Corrigan, & Lam. (2007). Challenging the structural discrimination of psychiatric disabilities: Lessons learned from the American disability community. Rehabilitation Education, 21(1), 53-58.
Dix, Slee, Lawson, & Keeves. (2011). Implementation quality of whole-school mental health promotion and students’ academic performance. Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
Eisenberg, Downs, Golberstein, & Zivin. (2009). Stigma and help seeking for mental health among college students. Medical Care Research and Review, 66(5), 522-541.
Gammon, H. L. (2013). The Student Perspective: An Exploration of the Experiences and Needs of University Students with Mental Illness. Browse all Theses and Dissertations.
Johnstone, M. (2001). Stigma, social justice and the rights of the mentally ill: Challenging the status quo. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 10, 200-209.
Kessler, Berglund, Demler, Jin, Merikangal, & Walters. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-on-set distribution of DSM-IV disorder in the national comorbidity survey replication. Archives general psychiatry, 62, 593-603.
Nguyen, D. T., Dedding, C., Pham, T. T., & Bunders, J. (2013). Perspectives of pupils, parents, and teachers on mental health problems among Vietnamese secondary school pupils. BMC Public Health, 13.
Place2Be. (2017, February 6). Survey: pupils share their views for Children’s Mental Health Week. Retrieved from https://www.place2be.org.uk/our-story/news/survey-pupils-share-their-views-for-children-s-mental-health-week.aspx
Roush, & Sharby. (2011). Disability reconsidered: The paradox of physical. Physical Therapy, 91(12), 1715-1727.
Sawyer, Miller-Lewis, & Clark. (2007). The mental health of 13–17 year-olds in Australia: Findings from the national survey of mental health and well-being. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 185-194.
Wood, & Wahl. (2006). Evaluating the effectiveness of a consumer-provided mental health recovery education presentation. Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 30(1), 46-52.