Stigma. We all have experienced it at one time or another. Maybe directly, maybe vicariously, maybe we’ve simply been affected by the very notion of it. We’ve been made to feel embarrassed and ashamed about having a mental illness. We’ve been hesitant to seek help. We have certainly attempted to hide our mental illness from people we know. We tend to blame ourselves and feel out of place. It’s time we join together and do something about stigma. Here is someone who has:
When it comes to mental health conditions, silence is not golden. Silence breeds stigma, and stigma hurts: it prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. That’s why the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) have joined forces to promote Say It Forward 2013, an email and social media anti-stigma campaign that educates people about the reality of mental health conditions.
The Say it Forward Campaign is a fantastic quest to reach out to others to educate them on the facts of mental illness. The campaign sight offers three ways to contact people you know either through email, Twitter, or Facebook, and then provides this list of myths and facts:
Myth: I don’t know anyone who has a mental health condition.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 4 people, or 25% of individuals, develops one or more mental health disorders at some stage in life. They are your family, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors.
Myth: Mental health conditions are not real medical illnesses.
Fact: Like heart disease and diabetes, mental health disorders are real, treatable conditions.
Myth: Bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions are not life-threatening.
Fact: Among individuals with bipolar disorder, 25–50% attempt suicide at least once, and suicide is a leading cause of death in this group. This serious condition can be treated, and treatment saves lives.
Myth: People with a severe mental illness are dangerous and violent.
Fact: Statistics show that those who live with from mental health conditions are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator. They are nearly five times more likely to be a victim of murder, and people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychosis are 2.5 times more likely to be attacked, raped, or mugged than the general population.
Myth: People with a mental health conditions aren’t capable of maintaining relationships or pursuing the career of their choice.
Fact: Individuals with mental health conditions can and do lead full, happy, productive lives—as mothers, friends, and spouses; as teachers, doctors, and lawyers.
It is important to have these conversations with loved ones and friends. Using the myths and facts is a wonderful tool in breaking the ice on the topic of mental illness. The campaign encourages each one of us to become involved and help put an end to stigma once and for all.
To learn more about the Say it Forward Campaign, check out their website: http://www.sayitforwardcampaign.org/
Sources: http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/ and http://www.dbsalliance.org/