Friday, 10 June 2011

Stick Ya Stigma! - The War Against Stigma

Everyone has Mental Health, even you, just the same as everyone has Physical Health. But are you a victim of discrimination if you have cancer or a broken limb? No. You know where the doctors and the hospitals are, and you go, no questions asked. But what about those people suffering from a mental illness such as depression, Anxiety, Psychosis or even an Eating Disorder? Just like a cancer patient or someone with a broken limb, these people aren’t feeling 100%. Mental Illness is just the same as any Physical Illness; it’s a malfunction of the human body. Sometimes Mental Illnesses can just happen, like diabetes or asthma.

What is stigma? The dictionary says it’s a mark of disgrace or a bad reputation. But essentially it’s discrimination. 1 in 4 young people will experience a Mental Illness in the next 12 months. Those young people are then likely to face isolation & discrimination just for having an illness. Discrimination is ugly and can prolong the illness. Often, stigma can even be worse than the illness itself.

The biggest problem with Mental Illnesses is the negative attitudes of others. So next time you use a word like 'psycho' or 'schizo', think about what your words could potentially do to that person’s recovery.

It’s important to talk about Mental Health because recovery and management IS possible. Most people can recover from a Mental Illness if they receive help early. But around 2 thirds of people with a Mental Illness don’t receive treatment because of stigma.

At the moment, the Mental Health Stigma stands its ground. But we can fight stigma by uniting together as a community to say STICK YA STIGMA! On the 8th of June, an army of young people, students, adults and members of the general public created a stir by walking and singing around Brisbane in costume and with masks. These people are fighting to break down the walls of stigma so that people with a Mental Illness can receive treatment and support without feeling disempowered.

You can help fight the war against stigma by educating yourself about Mental Health, being aware of the words you use, supporting those who have a Mental Illness and by sharing your story. For more information about Mental Health, Mental Illnesses and Stigma go to these sites:
Or Google “Mental Health”

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