Those with mental illnesses can improve with help

Sadly, our society is still in the dark ages in relation to mental health (Many still steer clear of people with mental illness: Poll; Sept 9).

A lack of understanding or information has allowed too many people in need of help to go without it because of the embarrassment and inconvenience to other family members.

Society tends to label those with mental illnesses if they do not conform to societal norms.

There have been many discussions between psychologists about the effects of these labels on the ill.

People who discriminate against those with mental illnesses do so because they do not understand the illness or the debilitating nature of it.

To them, depression can look like laziness, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can look like distraction.

Some people ridicule the disorders in order to neuter their own fear, while some may freak out and demand that such individuals be hidden from view or have their rights taken away because these individuals cannot be trusted.

The only way to understand those with mental disorders is to have empathy and not shun them.

We should also focus on mental health treatment. There are cases where those with mental disorders are abused in the name of treatment.

It may be well-intentioned, but because it comes from a place of ignorance, the "treatment" tends to do more harm than good.

Many do not understand that those with mental illnesses can work towards getting better.

Cheng Choon Fei