Actress Sonya Hussyn made a grossly untrue claim about schizophrenia.
Much like health problems, there are a lot of misconceptions people hold about mental health issues. Maybe even more so, because there is little to no effort in relation to mental health literacy in the country. Because of a severe lack of resources and knowledge available to the general public, things tend to get dicey. To add to that, problems arise when people, rather authoritatively, claim to understand mental health. They cause further trouble when they pass statements with an air of authority.
An example of people who think they may know about mental health but actually don’t is recent conversations that actress Sonya Hussyn has been involved in
Sonya has been promoting an upcoming drama of hers called Saraab. From the second teaser of the drama, the clip suggests that Hussyn’s character suffers from hallucinations and at some point is probably admitted unwillingly to a psychiatric facility, as it seems.
Personally, I am always wary of Pakistani dramas portraying mental health related issues because at times it is obvious that the writer did no research related to the matter and only created a caricature of the stereotypes of these issues.
While these dramas try to champion the cause of removing stigma, they essentially end up doing the opposite; make people fearful and believe in harmful stereotypes.
In an effort to promote her drama, Sonya Hussyn posted an image of her character on Instagram and that’s where things took a wrong turn
The character of Sonya has buzzwords related to mental health superimposed around her, in the photo. The caption reads like any run of the mill effort to ‘destigamtize mental health’ with no real thought or effort behind it.
I mean even the words on the image make no sense. They aren’t even related to one another, it’s just a hodgepodge of whatever someone wrote down that they think could be related to the mind or body. Mental health conditions, addiction, physical conditions, all unrelated and related conditions have been clumped together.
View this post on Instagram
If your #mentalillness makes you feel guilty, review the definition of “illness” and treat yourself with the same respect and concern you would show to a heart patient. . It’s time to destigmatize ‘ MENTAL ILLNESS’ in any form. #timetotalk #timetochange #mentalhealthawareness . #sonyahussyn #humtv #samikhan #nazishjahangir #ghanaali
The caption mentions, mental illness and how we need to destigmatize. She talks about showing yourself the same if you were diagnosed with a heart condition when you get diagnosed with a mental illness. Which is great, truly.
However, one needs to be careful when it comes to topics as serious as mental health. When you don’t have the required knowledge about something, it’s best to do your research before responding or keep quiet. And this is something Sonya Hussyn did NOT do.
When a mother of two children who are both on the autistic spectrum, according to her, pointed out to Hussyn that Autism Spectrum Disorders are not considered mental illnesses and that she should not list them in a post talking about illnesses, well Sonya decided to respond.
Sonya stated to the mother of two, that autism is a symptom of schizophrenia. However, this isn’t the case… at all. In fact, a statement like that is incredibly problematic. It would make a reader associate Autism with Schizophrenia and they’re two very different conditions. Considering that Sonya isn’t an expert on the subject, while the mother with two children on the spectrum probably has more related knowledge because she cares for two humans going through it, Sonya probably shouldn’t have responded in the way she did.
Both Autism and Schizophrenia are conditions that are separate from one another
While someone who suffers from Schizophrenia can also be on the Autism spectrum, that is ENTIRELY separate and not at all a ‘symptom’ as Hussyn confidently said.
While Sonya is a phenomenal actress who doesn’t shy away from taking on challenging characters, her being in an influential position and passing claims without proper and thorough research is very dangerous, particularly for people who may be caring for people suffering from these conditions and they might think what Sonya is suggesting is true. Unfortunately, this is not an issue merely limited to Sonya only.
Everyone considers themselves to be an expert in mental health related matters when actually not a lot of people are. Buzzwords like depression, anxiety and what not are in common use leading them to have no real clinical meaning in peoples’ minds. With the lack of legislation and implementation related to mental health laws, there are those with no training in psychology claiming to be therapists and psychologists while they impart absolutely rubbish information to people through their Instagram accounts.
Unless the government undertakes better practices related to mental health issues, this culture won’t change. A mere drama will do nothing in regards to it. The whole society needs to be educated in the matter to take it seriously, therefore this needs a much bigger public sector push in terms of awareness alongside the drama, if authorities are actually serious in providing awareness and not just using mental health conditions to sensationalize and present as “bold” new dramas.
Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most sensationalized mental health illness
Every television drama or movie, around the world, which portrays a character who is suffering from schizophrenia shows them to be entirely deranged and at times even violent. And no, this does NOT help making it less of a taboo.
The reality about Schizophrenia, for a majority of patients is very different. By just portraying sensationalized accounts of mental health conditions our dramas just put people in fear of those who may suffer from these conditions and lead them to mistreat such people. From the teaser and promotional shots Hussyn has uploaded on her Instagram, I’m afraid, it appears that Saraab won’t be much different. Honestly, if the lead actress playing the role wasn’t provided with proper, authentic research on the subject, then why would I expect any better from anyone else in the team?
Cover Image Source: @sonyahussyn via Instagram