I'm taking this discussion out of MTME's thread as it didn't belong there, but it started something that has always deeply bothered me about this forum. Mental illness is real and kills so many people, especially young people. This forum is populated with a heavy demographic of young people, and people who often have social difficulties, let's be honest. I would wager there is also a higher-than-average incidence of mental illness in this population than in the rest of society, but even if our fandom has the same rates as the rest of society, it's anywhere from 1 in 3 to 1 in 5, depending on the research. And yet I keep encountering a disturbing trend here to either: 1) Claim many types of recognized mental illnesses don't exist (Aspergers, Depression, Anxiety Disorders). 2) Claim professional help isn't needed for mental illnesses like depression. 3) Opposite to #1 and #2 (but in a strange way actually fueling them), people who self diagnose incorrectly with mental illnesses like OCD and Aspergers. This actually makes #1 and #2 worse. But here are some facts you need to be aware of as you state things in front of all the people silently reading what you say in here: 1) The stigma surrounding mental illness kills. People suffering from undiagnosed mental illness are already under significant social pressure to "shut up and deal with it" and "its all in your head". They are pushed away from seeking professional help. In an overwhelming majority of cases, this leads to destructive behavior (ruing their lives) and in far too many cases, suicidal tendencies. Stigma The social stigma associated with mental disorders is a widespread problem. Some people believe those with serious mental illnesses cannot recover, or are to blame for problems. The US Surgeon General stated in 1999 that: "Powerful and pervasive, stigma prevents people from acknowledging their own mental health problems, much less disclosing them to others." When you post things that foster or promote this stigma, you are pushing readers away from seeking professional help. If they have a mental illness like clinical depression or worse, you are effectively pushing them down a road towards suicide. 2) While some mental illnesses are stupidly self-diagnosed and everyone claims to have them, that does not mean the illnesses themselves are not real and dangerous to those that actually have them. We all know it's cool on the net to claim you have Aspergers because you're socially awkward and/or want to post jerky things. These people are inevitably self-diagnosed or were badly diagnosed by a professional not doing their job properly. Here on the TF forums a lot of people claim to have OCD about collecting, though I'd say 9/10 of people on here who claim that are just bullcrapping and don't know what real OCD is (hint: real OCD is life-wrecking and miserable). But the fact that there are so many idiots out there self-diagnosing, AND/OR the fact that some professionals over-diagnose; these things don't magically make real Aspergers/OCD/depression not exist. They exist (just in much lower numbers) and need treatment. 3) Real mental illness is not weakness. It's chemicals. It's no different than any other illness, it just exists in the brain instead of another organ. Real mental illness is not weakness. It isn't something strong people are immune to. It isn't something to be ashamed of. 4) Genuine mental illness requires professional, medical attention. Just like any other significant illness. You can't pray it away. You can't "just get over it". You need to seek medical help, no different than if you had heart disease or any other chronic illness. Now, professional medical help does not necessarily mean medication. It means proper diagnosis by a qualified professional, and then you and your doctor/therapist/psychologist create a treatment plan that works for you. If medication doesn't work for you, you try other things. Many mental illness treatments, whether they involve medication or not, also require cognitive behavior therapy or related therapy. If you want to try to create and use an all-natural plan, that's fine too. This isn't about pumping people full of pills, it's about proper diagnosis and a treatment plan based on science and medical knowledge, not on what friends or family think. These last points are for those out there suffering from mental illness: 1) Seek professional help. Talk to your doctor. If he doesn't help, get another one. Some doctors sadly still believe the stigmas (especially older doctors). DON'T LISTEN TO NON-PROFESSIONALS, like forum members or friends/family who believe the stigmas and will tell you it's all in your head, or that you're weak. I recognize the irony that I am writing this as some random non-professional on a forum, by the way. If you are religious, do NOT confuse the two. Mental illness is as real as heart disease - you can't pray it away, it isn't the devil at work. Just as you'd see a doctor if you had any other illness, god wants you to seek proper help for these illnesses too. That's why he gave us doctors and knowledge to heal ourselves. 2) Don't be a victim. Too many with mental illness let it take over and define them. Fight. Manage it. Treat it. Work with your doctor/therapist/etc to get it under control and live a full life with it under control. Do not give in to victim mentality and hide in a dark room with a computer and blame everything on your illness. Get it treated, learn behavior and thought modification techniques, and overcome it. Every day will be a struggle, but never give in to the darkness or solitude mental illness tries to force on you. And NEVER blame yourself for having it. It's chemicals. ------- tl:dr version: Mental illness is real and dangerous to those who have it, because untreated it leads to destructive behavior and suicidal tendencies. Just because it's over-diagnosed or self-diagnosed by idiots doesn't mean it isn't still real in those who actually do have it. People who actually do have mental illness need professional medical help to form a treatment plan (that may or may not involve medicine, therapy, etc). People who actually do have mental illness who don't seek professional medical help are at a dangerously higher risk of suicide or other forms of self-destructive death. If you post things that push people who genuinely have mental illness into not seeking professional help, you are pushing them down a very destructive path. It is dangerous advice to give.