Remind Your Friends You Care: A Call for Mental Illness Awareness

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By Lyka Mae P. Chiang

Mental illness is a serious health problem that’s in dire need of attention. There are so many people struggling and feeling vulnerable because no one is taking them seriously when they open up about their illness. And it’s just so sad to think that the lack of attention to this matter may continue to cost the lives of so many people in the forthcoming years.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 18: Singer Chester Bennington attends Linkin Park's induction into the Rockwalk at Guitar Center on June 18, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 18: Singer Chester Bennington attends Linkin Park’s induction into the Rockwalk at Guitar Center on June 18, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Just recently, American singer and songwriter Chester Bennington took his own life due to depression. Bennington was the lead singer for the rock band Linkin Park which is loved by millions of people. But for a person with mental illness, it isn’t about how many people love you but how they show that they actually care.

Ang drama mo naman (You’re being dramatic).

Malungkot ka lang (You’re just sad).

Lilipas din ‘yan (That, too, shall pass).

These are some of the common phrases we usually hear or say when someone vents about their life struggles. Most of the time, when they tell us “Gusto ko nang mamatay (I want to die),” we just shrug them off thinking that they’re just being exaggerated. But, what we do not know is in some of these cases, they actually mean it, and all they need is a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.

People with mental illness will not tell you they have it. Chances are, even they are not aware of their condition. So, how can you distinguish if a person is just “sharing” or “crying for help”?  Although there are depression symptoms, it is still difficult to understand its difference from sadness at first glance. And that’s why more often than not, you will not be able to see the distinction between the two.

You’re probably wondering, if I don’t know he’s depressed then how will I be able to help? The simple answer to this question—be nice all the time. I know you might have heard it a lot. But this time, put it in action. You see hundreds of people in crowded streets everyday trying to go on with their lives. They seem alright, but perhaps, they’re lifting a heavy weight you don’t know about. So instead of being pissed at them because you’re running late for work while they’re standing in your way, kindly ask them to move instead.

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If you see a friend posting on social media about his personal problems, instead of mocking him for sharing everything online, just hit him up to see if he’s okay. Instead of adding to his countless burdens, be a helping hand. He may be battling with demons in his head, and know that in some way, you can help fight them.

As Bennington’s wife Talinda said, “Depression doesn’t have a face or a mood.”  You may see a person laughing but behind that grin is a bleeding heart. He may seem happy now, but when he’s alone at night, tears run down his face as the darkness feeds his sorrow.

So please, do remind your friends, loved ones, and even strangers that someone cares about them. There are countless opportunities that the future holds for these people, and the best thing you can do is help them see it. Listen and show them that you care. That’s how you become a hero even just for one person.

Disclaimer: If you know someone who’s suffering from mental illness, please advise them to seek medical advice. Caring may be of help, but the real treatment lies in the hands of a professional.

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