After nearly a year of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are struggling with feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression as a result of prolonged isolation.
“If there’s one thing that has really been an important factor in positive outcomes with people with… mental illnesses, it’s social supports.” — Roy Richard Grinker, George Washington University Anthropologist
Because of the cultural shame surrounding mental illness in American society, people often put off seeking treatment for these issues.
Listen: Anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker discusses the realities of mental health and why we should be paying more attention to our mental well-being
Roy Richard Grinker is an anthropology professor at George Washington University and author of “Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness.” He says that events like the COVID-19 pandemic have a big impact on people’s mental health, even if they have no prior experience with mental illness.
“We know that mental illnesses are incredibly intertwined with the experiences we have,” Grinker says. “These are normal people in abnormal circumstances.”
“We need to support everybody and understand that conditions we live in, not our own weaknesses, are what create these problems.” – Roy Richard Grinker, George Washington University Anthropologist
Even though mental illness is more common than people think, it’s still not prioritized as a medical issue in American culture. Grinker believes that open conversations surrounding mental health will reduce stigma and raise awareness.
“If there’s one thing that has really been an important factor in positive outcomes with people with…mental illnesses, it’s social supports,” says Grinker. “We need to support everybody and understand that conditions we live in, not our own weaknesses, are what create these problems.”
Web story written by Nora Rhein.