Submitted by someone whose mother has a mental illness…
Do you know anyone that suffers with a mental illness? I do and she is a part of me.
Using negative labels which leads to branding and shame is what is called stigma. People with mental illness are just like you and me:
- They talk like us
- Love like us
- And laugh like us.
People with mental illness are no different than people with cancer or other illnesses.
People with cancer or other illnesses get treated with respect and dignity, where people with mental illness sometimes get treated with disrespect and shame. Whether it is cancer or mental illness or any other illness, all are special people and should be respected and loved the same.
Everyone knows why it is wrong to discriminate against people because of their race, religion, culture or appearance. People are less aware of how people with mental illnesses are discriminated against. Although discrimination may not always be obvious, it exists – and it hurts. Stigma is not just the use of the wrong word or action. It is about disrespect. It is the use of negative labels to identify a person living with mental illness. Stigma is a barrier and discourages individuals and their families from getting the help they need due to the fear of discrimination.
An estimated 50 million Americans experience a mental disorder in any given year and only one-fourth of them actually receive mental health and other services.
With all this said, all I ask is that if you or anyone you know suffers with a mental illness, don’t be ashamed to go seek help as you would for any other illness. And please think twice before judging or saying hurtful things about someone with a mental illness. You may not have one now, but in the future you may find yourself with a mental illness… It is your choice, but please try to respect them as you would want to be respected.