Our mental health seriously affects our physical health, so there should be absolutely no stigma around mental health, none at all~First Lady, Michelle Obama
Depression. Bipolar Disorder. PTSD. Schizophrenia. Anxiety. What do you think of when you hear any of these illnesses? I remember the first time I heard the term schizophrenia. I was reading it aloud from my mother’s court document. Do you remember the first time you heard someone speak about one of them? Has that first conversation impacted your view on mental illness?
Most of us hear about mental illness or mental health in the news when something tragic happens. A mass shooting, a mother killing her kids, or a murder-suicide. We hear about it when our parents or older relatives discuss the aunt, uncle or cousin that “ain’t right in the head”. We may talk about it with our friends if one of them opens up about their own struggle with mental health. But what do YOU have to say about mental health and mental illness? What is the impression YOU convey to others when discussing either topic?
Being aware of how YOU feel about mental illness is important because it will show in your actions and in your words with others. One out of four people are affected by mental illness, so chances are you know someone that has been affected by it. Our words and actions have a huge impact on others, and your words could ultimately encourage someone to seek help.
If you are unsure of what your feelings are surrounding mental illness and mental health, take time to learn about it. I am not suggesting you go out and read medical books, but I’d suggest reading magazine and newspaper articles, blogs, and even some fiction books. I recently read “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” by Stacy Campbell (review coming soon on www.speakawaythestigma.org) and I loved it. I recommend this book not only because it is a story about a Black family coping with a mentally ill family member and I can relate but because it is a real glimpse of what it takes to care for a loved one suffering with a mental illness.
Social media is also a great way to learn about mental illness. If you are on Instagram, here a few accounts that can help you learn more about mental illness: Activate_MindsOW, Homagi.One, Project1in4, and of course SpeakAwaytheStigma are a few good ones to follow.
Feministas, do you talk about mental illness and if so what are your feelings about it? Do you speak about it wit the same empathy as you would speak about a physical illness?