In doing my research, then writing and keeping up with feedback later, for my post The Black Mark Against Mental Illness I was reminded of just how strong the stigma against mental illness is. People feel very strongly about being labelled as having a mental illness, and I don’t think that’s so much about the label (or the treatment that might be needed), as the attitude they expect from the general public, as well as the attitude they apply to themselves about having a mental illness.
That post made me realise anew just how hard it is to accept a diagnosis of mental illness, and had me thinking that we have to do something about this because it’s stopping people from getting the help and treatment they need.
So it was timely when I discovered Healthy Place’s Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign, which starts today. This campaign in about standing up to, and eliminating the stigma against mental illness. By taking part in this, I am saying:
There is nothing “wrong” with having a mental illness.
People with a mental illness are not alone in what they are dealing with.
People with a mental illness shouldn’t feel ashamed or forced to hide their mental illness symptoms and desire for effective treatment.
Mental health stigma will no longer be tolerated.
One thing I have been reminded of recently is being told their illness or symptoms are ‘all in their head’ is scary for people. I’ve particularly noticed this amongst fibromyalgia sufferers who, like me, often have a hard job getting doctors to take their suffering seriously. When any suffering impedes our daily life, it is serious and I think it is so sad that this is a common attitude struck by people with chronic pain conditions.
As quite rightly pointed out to me the other day it IS ‘all in their head’. After all, whether it is fibromyalgia, which has it’s grounding in neurological functioning, or a specific mental illness, it does come from the brain… which is found in the head. Why should something based in the head be something to be feared or ignored? It shouldn’t be. It is just as important as if I have a twisted ankle which affects my walking.
When people are suffering, they shouldn’t need to fear the reactions of either medical staff, media, or their friends and family. Whatever the basis of suffering is, it is real and should be treated as such.
Yet again, I go on about stigma and now I have joined this Campaign. I think that’s what it’s going to take. For us to continually chip away against the attitudes that exist. Every time we contribute to the conversation against stigma, then we are creating an ocean full of acceptance and understanding for everyone who suffers. Even if we can’t change the attitudes we personally experience, it would be great if we made it easier for those ahead to seek and get the help they need.
“How would your life be different if…you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…you look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
~Steve Maraboli, Life, The Truth and Being Free
- The Black Mark Against Mental Illness (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign (healthyplace.com)
- HealthyPlace.com Launches National Stand Up For Mental Health Campaign (prweb.com)