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mental illness: a community project

Who’s your favourite person in the world? Is it your mom? A sibling? Maybe it's your high school teacher...

Typically our favourite person is the one that we feel safe around. They're the person who allows us to be vulnerable and honest about who we are and what we feel. They’d never judge or criticize you even if you were to tell them your deepest and darkest secrets.

But what if that favourite person was taken away from you? Or worse, what if you never had a favourite person at all?

The world of mental illness is a very cold and lonely one. Maybe even more so than the world that others without a mental illness live in. In all of its complexities, it's rather uncommon to find a safe place to call home. Many people with mental illnesses, like many others without, have to hide their struggles. You will see them hide the scars on their arms or smile despite the emotional turmoil within them.

But there’s an added barrier for those with mental illnesses... One that is quite tricky to describe through words... You see, when others hear about a person’s mental illness, it typically results in a greater distance between others and that person. It leads to more feelings of isolation, unacceptance, and self-hatred.

There are many still who think “They are different.” or “They are crazy!” But the truth is, they are just unwell. They may be different from you, but that shouldn’t discourage you from taking that extra step to understand them.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, “Mental Health” became a buzzword. And although we talk about it a lot, there’s still much left to do. As someone who has been a client of almost 20 mental health professionals, and has worked with plenty more as a content creator, I believe that there is still much work to be done. This could be through further specialization for mental health professionals, in-depth awareness programs, improved healthcare policies and insurance coverage for mental healthcare, and safe spaces created in our workplaces, places of worship, and institutions.

But perhaps there’s something more fundamental that could be done. Something that could happen in every school, every college, every social gathering, and every neighborhood. And that is an increased destigmatization, specifically by humanizing these “abnormal” disorders. Because whenever we put a face or a person to the name of a disorder, the treatment of that disorder immediately changes. For example, my name is Luke G. Tan and I have treatment-resistant OCD. And if you met me in person, I’d tell you about where I’m from and what I do. But I’ve been told that I’m a good listener. So, I’d also love to listen to you talk about your life, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. I’d ask you about your opinion on coffee and what genuine struggles you face as a person. I also enjoy comedy, so I’d try to make you laugh at a corny joke or two whenever appropriate. But most importantly, I would hope that our short interaction will leave you encouraged and feeling understood.

Now, the question is... Do you still think I’m weird or crazy? I hope not... I hope not.

Be well, dear friend. And may you be someone’s favourite person today.

Submitted by: Luke G. Tan


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