Dr Loh: Do not judge those struggling with mental illness and be proactive in offering assistance. Up to 70% of individuals with mental illness are not receiving the adequate care they require. The stigma that society has against this group of patients deters them from disclosing their conditions and in turn, receiving necessary support. This could worsen their conditions and encourage further hiding of their problems.
If you think about it, a colleague who has recently suffered from a heart attack or been diagnosed with diabetes gets attention from many people around them. People take care to express their concerns, pick the right places to eat or even buy the right kind of food or gifts for these colleagues. However, if a colleague was found to have had a recent mental breakdown or even suicide attempt, the natural tendency for people is to avoid the topic and not bring up the problem. The worst advice one can give to someone who is suffering from depression goes along the lines of “Snap out of it”, “Get a grip on yourself”, “Why are you thinking this way?”, “Why can’t you be strong?”. People with mental illness do not choose to be ill or think negatively, they cannot help it. Neither are these individuals able to “think their way out” of their problems. They need help and support from the people around them and constant reminders to navigate them to the right thought processes. I believe the real reason behind this social issue is the lack of awareness and proper education about mental illness.
Although Joker misrepresents certain aspects of mental health, it does provide a prominent platform for discourse on mental health and awareness. There is so much more that we, as a society, can do. Looking back at the social reasons for Arthur’s downfall, such as the lack of support and limited access to medication and therapy, his story is all the more tragic because it was preventable. Had he received the help he so desperately needed, he would not have been a man abandoned by society, mocked and despised.
In the end, Gotham created its own villain.