For the last two years, I’ve written a post in observance of May is Mental Health Month. This time around I want to focus on stigma. Webster dictionary defines stigma as a mark of shame or discredit. Well, there’s nothing shameful about having a mental illness. However, society believe otherwise.
It’s stigma that prevents us from reaching to those who need help because we don’t want to be associated with someone with a mental illness. Some of us grew up having “that crazy uncle” who was locked away in a room at Grandma’s house. The truth is that Crazy Uncle (fill in the blank) may have been depressed or schizophrenic. Stigma prevents medical personnel from asking questions about mental health during an examination. You may overeat because you love food. Or you may overeat because you suffer from anxiety. It’s stigma that makes us fearful of that homeless person who’s screaming at no one in the middle of the street. Studies have shown that those with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. It’s stigma that prevent those with mental illness from receiving treatment. It’s stigma that makes us even afraid to acknowledge that mental illness exists. And it is stigma that will eventually kill us.
The time is now to speak up for mental health. If you or someone you know needs help, don’t ignore it. Don’t hide from it. That’s what stigma wants you to do. Instead, stand up with your head held high and face it. Below are some resources to get you started. Take advantage of the last few days of May to take a stand against the stigma of mental illness.
American Psychological Association – http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/index.aspx
Mental Health America – http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info
American Psychiatric Association – http://www.psychiatry.org/mental-health