Stigma is going to kill us – May is Mental Health Month post

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

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One thought on “Stigma is going to kill us – May is Mental Health Month post

  1. Stef, thanks for this post. My little sister is bi-polar, and I agree that there is a stigma associated with mental health or mental illness. I’ve had to spend time learning about my sister’s illness and ways to relate to her as well as find ways to help others relate to her. I am constantly discouraged by the ways that others label or criticize my sister and others with her illness. I am here standing with you and others about the need to remove the stigma and find ways to embrace, encourage, and ultimately, understand the plight of those who are sick and the families and friends who are working so hard to help them live better lives. As a family, we struggle through the ups and downs of the situation. However, at the end of the day, my parents constantly remind me and my other sister that though our sister is sick, she’s all right! That means, don’t trip, don’t mistreat, don’t act “high and mighty”, just love and learn and grow together through love and support. Go Mom and Dad! And, thanks Stef, this post hit home for me!

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