We all know that the stigma surrounding mental health conditions has been around for an exceptionally long time. It has been entrenched in the very history of society itself. Nevertheless, there is a movement taking place which aims to end this stigma and discrimination ensuring that those who suffer from a mental health condition are treated equitably in society. While that in itself is great…I do believe we have a very long way to go in this battle for equality. In fact, in just a typical day of looking at newspaper headlines, watching television and taking a stroll in my neighborhood I witnessed so many things which personify this point. In the span of just one hour I was able to witness and compose a list of 10 signs mental health stigma is far from over. I repeat…just one hour!
- I saw an advertisement from a theme park to come visit their Hallowe’en attraction…The Asylum.
2. A weather forecaster remarked how the winds today were “crazy.”
3. Leading story in a variety of newspapers in regards to the drastic Government cuts coming to mental health programs.
4. The consistent portrayal of those suffering from a mental health condition as violent and dangerous.
5. Hallowe’en costumes advertised as “escapee from lunatic asylum.
6. People with mental health conditions being portrayed as weak and they should develop some fortitude and “snap out of it.”
7. Referring to an individual as mentally ill. (Really? What type of mental illness are they suffering from? Would they refer to someone as “physically ill?).
8. In the span of watching a short piece of one show I heard the following term used in reference to mental health…”psycho” “”crazy” “mad” and “nuts”
9. Reference to the “Mentally ill homeless” (You do not need to have a mental illness to be homeless).
I could take all of this and really become dejected. How can such stigma and discrimination possibly still exist? Am I being too sensitive? My answer to this is that I am not being too sensitive. It does exist…and it is in the mainstream! As long as this is allowed…nothing will change. I am not demoralized by this…I am more determined than ever to fight stigma tooth and nail.