In the world of political opinions today, everyone’s thoughts are seen as equally valid on the stage of shouting and screaming. But in the mish-mash of ideas, certain groups have stepped forward to represent issues not experienced by themselves nor backed by facts. And, in turn, they get it horribly wrong. This is not to say that people can’t comment of things outside their experience, as humans are empathetic creatures. But they do need to have relevant information, of the issue will simply escalate and get worse. One of those problems is mental health.
There are parents whose children suffers from being on the autism spectrum. Their children wears these ‘ear defenders’ headphones sometimes when going outside and requires disability buggies to get around, even at ages up to 7 and above. These parents would receive verbal abuses from people who thinks the ear defenders are actual headphones to stop kids from talking or that the buggies are pampering the child. Basically, the outside idea is that these are bad parents, not wanting to take care of the children or not giving the child freedom to grow, when in fact, these are parents doing what they can so their kids can live as normal a life as possible.
People are bound by their prejudices. Anyone who says they do not have them are lying. The most extreme examples are the far liberals and conservatives that have perpetuated and imposed their ideologies on the issues regardless of the facts that exists, and these society imposed beliefs are having a negative impact on the progress of mental health awareness and understanding.
Take the topic of “Trigger Warnings” for example. The term is used as a warning to tell people when a specific topic or subject could potentially kick off trauma or mental illness. It is a legitimate process of treatment for people who had significant trauma and mental heath issues to go through. In the not so distant past, trigger warnings were given by university lecturers when sensitive topics were discussed that could negatively affect a student’s health. Subjects such as child, sexual, or familial abuse particularly, or target racism. Students would then sit that class aside while discussing with their teachers on how to take the subject at a different pace without ‘triggering’ their trauma. It is, and an emphasis on it, “NOT AN ESCAPE”.
However, both liberals and conservative hardliners have taken this legitimate practice in medical healthcare and turned it on its head. On one hand, the liberals are using the term as an excuse to outright deny the existence of anything they disagree with, such as speech and book banning. The conservatives throws around the ‘snowflake’ label, calling anyone using trigger warnings delicate little things that should be culled from existence for being too weak willed to live. Basically, one side bans freedom of information and speech, while the other chastise the mentally ill, some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Both sides however, missed the point. Trigger warning was fine the way it was being used. Lecturers and professors announcing them at their discretion and those who need them most take the offered help. It was, and still is, never about politics and ideology. It is a medical health issue. You don’t give diabetics a full meal of infused sugar and carbs. They still need food like those, but you administer it at a manageable pace. The same thing was done and should continue to be done with trigger warnings. For people who are particularly sensitive to the topics, they are not suppose to turn away entirely from the subjects. They are suppose to learn and have free access to the information to broaden their horizons. That’s what education is about.
And on being sensitive, it’s not to mean the “Oh, this topic makes me so angry!” sense.
It’s more “Shit. This topic is making me relive horrible memories of me being suicidal/raped/abused. I’m going to throw up and have a panic attack!”
This mentality in politicising the non political has had devastating impact throughout the world in broad ranges of topics. And while this article focused primarily on mental health, the situation is dire everywhere. Climate change, Separation of religion and science, wildlife conservation, healthcare, and countless others. All these things are often labelled ‘fake news’ by the right or ‘politically incorrect’ by the left as a way to scream personal beliefs, regardless of the facts.
Unless the people of the world can get it through their thick heads that it’s not always about them and their personal beliefs and ideologies, the world will continue to degrade, and suicide rates skyrocketing will be the least of our worries.
(Ear Defender image by Tim Parkinson)