"Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of; but stigma and bias shame us all" - Bill Clinton
In this digital age where social media rules a lot of lives, Stigma is ever-present. This stigma is not just a social "norm", its unfortunately ingrained into our own behaviours and that is the scary part of it.
When I say behaviours, I mean something which is ingrained into our subconscious where we immediately jump to that conclusion. Say the behaviours of someone who likes to ensure their workplace is tidy, they clean as they go most the time where as someone else may just tidy at the end of their task, or even at all.
"Until we change the behaviours of ourselves, can we only then truly defeat mental health stigma." - Thomas Dunning
To be honest, before I ever encountered the torment of mental ill health, I had the mindset that may other people do in society and thought of people with stress or depression related illnesses need to just "Man up" and get over it - and that was the behaviour. Unfortunately it took a big kick up the backside and go through my own journey to learn that its just not that simple.
Back then, if anyone would have asked me what I thought about mental illness, the likeliness of straight jackets and padded cells instantly came to mind - this thought process even filtered to me when I was suffering, believing that I would just be locked up and forgotten about.
Little did I know, I was stigmatising mental health issues because of everything I had learnt about them was through the media; albeit printed, social or video means. The media however is just a product, and one which is sold by sensationalising stories to the far extremes to make a quick buck - and this sickens me.
Stigma is not going to change or disappear over night - no matter how much I would love it too, there is no way its just going to turn into dust as if the tyrant "Thanos" of the Marvel Universe clicking his fingers
We need to fight - We need to learn - We need to talk.
Not just for ourselves, but for those who aren't here anymore.
This isn't just for Mental health which is obviously my focus - but this is everything in general. Stigma against Race, Disability, Age, beliefs or sexuality is nothing but a wall we have unfortunately built and only we can break it down.
It was Nelson Mandela who once said "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" and I would love to add onto that sentiment: "Its time to listen to the scholars of mental health; lived experience or not, and destroy the wall of stigma."
Everything we do as individuals has an effect in our world and in our society's like stones being thrown into a still lake; the actions are the stones, the effect is the ripples of the splash. - only we can change as individuals until it will happen in a grander scale.
I challenge you, the reader to at some point today - just 5 minuets - Reach out to someone, any one; could be family who you haven't spoken to in a while, or to someone you think may be struggling with something - you could start the revolution against Stigma or even better... Save someone's life.
Stay Strong, Stay Safe