Stigma is a mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval resulting in discrimination.
Currently there are 1 in 5 Americans who live with a mental disorder, but according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment.
The reason - STIGMA. The result - SUICIDE.
Last year over 41,000 Americans took their lives.
90% of those Americans lived with mental illness.
100% of the 90% experienced stigma.
People live in fear, afraid to seek help for their mental illness. Some are so fearful of the label stigma brings that even self-acceptance is hard to grasp.
If you are someone like myself, someone who lives with mental illness every day and understands the negativity experienced when the subject of mental health arises, then you know it's easier said than done to eliminate the stigma.
It comes in all shapes and sizes. Someone who is looking to make a derogatory comment made about someones weight may say the following sentence:
"Forget the salad you skinny bitch. Just eat a cheeseburger! You look so anorexic!"
UGH, SO MUCH STIGMA^^^
- It is spoken in a negative tone
- It uses the mental illness with the highest mortality rate to be what drives this girl to put on some weight (which I'm sure is uncalled for anyway!)
- (Oh! And my personal favorite) A mental illness was used as an adjective. Mental illnesses should NEVER be used as adjectives!!!
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Another example of stigma is when you drive past the local psychiatric hospital just to "see if any of the loons are out"
Those are people. They are ill. They are just like you and me. Oh and the fun part - I'm pretty sure you know someone who fits the mold of this "loon" you speak of.
1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness. Look around you...are there more than 5 people there? Is anyone screaming out that they are the crazy person? Didn't think so.
In every occurrence that stigma is used, someone hears it and can be deeply affected by the statement.
It might be their tipping point, it could be the statement that drives them to take their own life.
We need to end STIGMA. Period.
Chances are if you have read this far, you agree with the above statement and for that I applaud you. You are what it takes to end the stigma.
But how can one person end this wretched thing called stigma?
Well, one person can't but one person CAN influence another person, who can influence another person, who influences someone else, etc!
Within a week of you making it your mission to end the stigma, it's almost a guarantee you have influenced dozens of other people who are influencing dozens more.
There is no greater feeling than knowing you are positively impacting the lives of others.
The key to it all.
For every fifth person who reads this article - you're just like me. We may be living with completely unique and different mental illnesses, but we are the same in that our lives have been affected by the same stigma and we don't wish that on any others.
You have a story to tell.
You have a diagnosis, you have a face, and you have a story.
Put a face to mental illness. Show the world who they are shaming when they talk derogatorily about 'crazy people in mental hospitals'. Show them who you really are and help to stop the shame and the taint that comes with being labeled mentally ill.
If you're not sure how to do this on your own or you want a helping hand along the ride I'm here for you! In fact, I'll be standing tall and proud next to you when you tell society to take their stigma and SHOVE IT!
There's no need to play nice when it comes to telling it how it is. Stigma needs to be eliminated and we are the ones who will make it disappear.
I'm ready to give you all the tools you need to share your story and make the most out of what this life has given you.
All you need to do is WANT stigma eliminated as much as I do.