Sophie Vu.

Interviewed by Jada Atchu-Yudom

Do you think people get over a mental illness without medication?

I don’t believe curing one’s mental illness needs to be directly attached to taking medication.  I think mental illness is different for everybody and there is no set “formula” that can be applied to every person perfectly to help them.  While many people may benefit from a combination of medication and therapy, some people work well with only medication or only therapy.  

Do you think people stabilize a mental illness simply with medication alone? 

Similar to my response to people getting over a mental illness without medication, mental illness is different for everybody and what works for one person won’t be perfect for another person as well.  In other words, some people may work well with medication alone and others may not.  Moreover, mental illness and one’s mental health include many different factors, and not all of them can be treated with only medication.

Some people choose to just take meds and no therapy, do you think it is safe?

I have the feeling that taking meds alone without any sort of therapy or exterior assistance isn’t the safest option.  However, I cannot assume that everybody is in the same situation.  Some people’s situations may allow them to only take meds without therapy and for others that may be different.  I don’t think it’s my place to decide for other people what is the best option for them seeing that I am not a professional and I’m not fully aware of their circumstances.

How can you tell if someone has a mental health problem?

Mental health problems are internal and there aren’t many exterior signs to look out for.  While some mental health problems show exterior symptoms (for example, someone who has depression may show exterior symptoms such as changes in sleep or appetite), one cannot assume another person’s mental health just by looking at them, and some symptoms may overlap with other illnesses making it harder to distinguish a specific issue.  Simply put, one cannot really “tell” if someone has a mental health problem without being a professional in that area of expertise.

At its core, stigma is caused by?

Stigma is caused by society’s overall lack of knowledge/awareness and “accurate” perception of mental health and mental issues.  Although there are efforts aimed to spread awareness and educate others about mental health, there are still misunderstandings and misconceptions about it.  These misunderstandings or misconceptions usually view mental health in a negative light, bringing more stigma towards the topic.  

What does that stigma look like?

Stigma comes on a spectrum, and it comes in a variety of forms and manners.  On one side, stigma may look unacceptable, coming in the forms of bullying, harassment, or harsh words.  On the other side, stigma may be considered more “insensitive.”  Insensitive stigma may look like treating mental illness as something easy to cure: “Just try harder,” or “Think positive!”  

What are some things that we can do to stop that stigma?

Spread awareness, provide accurate information… Stigma was caused by a lack of knowledge, so it can be battled with education.

Why do you think mental health is stigmatized?

Stemming from a lack of knowledge and misrepresentation of mental health, some people may have certain ideas about mental health that are not only incorrect but may also be verbally harmful to others.

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