Once upon a time and currently in certain quarters of the world, people were and are of the view that only people with weak minds experience mental illness. If only they were strong or had stronger faith.

Several months ago, I saw someone’s comment under an article about a victim of suicide suggesting that the suicide victim wouldn’t have died if he was had “prayed” harder. The author of such a comment went on to cruelly and ignorantly insinuated that the suicide victim didn’t deserve any mercy or sympathy, and would be “punished” further by his/her maker. I tried to question this person on his view to no avail.

Do you hold that view? Is mental illness and/or stress unique or confined to “weak” minded? Before psychoanalysis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became an official psychiatric diagnosis, many people held that view. Many war veterans and victims of trauma were disregarded, ignored and dismissed as “weak”. Some locked up, institutionalized and abused.

I once wrote a paper about the traumatic experiences of war veterans; the flashbacks, nightmares and suffering was unimaginable. People suffer in silence not just from the illness but from stigma and shame others make them suffer.

Since the 20th century, things have changed significantly. Now we know that NO ONE is immuned from stress or mental illness. Anyone can experience stress, mental or psychiatric illness. Some may be more prone than others due to a complex variety of factors. We can have different levels and intensity of stress depending on our genetics, previous exposure, personal resources, social support, stage of life, employment/financial situations, family systems, existence of physical or mental illness, disability etc.

1. Please educate yourself and be empathetic to people who suffer.
2. Learn good ways to manage your own stress.
3. Be in tune with your loved ones and be aware when they are under stress and/or mental illness.
4. Don’t judge victims but be supportive.

Stress Management Strategies /Tips :

1. Maintain a positive attitude
2. Be aware of your stress and take a deep breath
3. Know that you do not have control over everything; control what you can and don’t worry about those beyond your control
4. Be assertive not aggressive
5. Eat and drink healthy
6. Get enough sleep
7. Utilize your natural support particularly your loved ones. Talk to a trusted person.
8. Turn to your faith and what helps you in times of stress
9. Practice (or learn) relaxation techniques: deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, quiet prayer etc
10. Find time for leisure or entertainment (anything you enjoy or relaxes you): music, movie, walks, warm bath
11. Pace yourself and don’t follow “the crowd”
12.Learn to say no to things you cannot do or will give you extra stress
13. Be kind to yourself and others
14. Learn to be content with yourself and take steps to improve what you don’t like about yourself or situation
14 Seek professional help when things are unmanageable
15. Use medical or psychiatric resources when necessary and available

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.


Akosua G
Ontario, Canada
December 29, 2019