Ending the mental health stigma
TUCSON, Ariz. – Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Southern Arizona, Clarke Romans says the roots of mental illness stigma go back a long time.
Romans says, “Mental illnesses are kind of mysterious and the only observable sign of a mental illness is a person behavior. Many other disorders have visible signs. For instance, if you’re missing a limb or someone who is blind.”
“Mental illnesses are observed often times by the person living with the symptom but they don’t know what it is because of stigma self-perpetuates,” says Romans.
Advocates with NAMI say, no one is born with stigma, they learn it. “So people have learned through the societal language that mental illness is not something you want.
As time has gone on people who were in the medical field or other fields began to understand that these were a group of disorders but because they couldn’t really identify where they’re coming from, why they’re happening, what they look like – myths grew out.
Romans says early intervention is crucial because it leads to better outcomes. “If we can identify these disorders when they’re first beginning to manifest themselves in young people and children then the treatements are much easier and the outcomes are so much better. The lives we can save are tremendous.
How can you fight mental illness stigma?
- Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho, retarded and correct people who do so.
- Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and fostering an inclusive work environment.
- Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity, religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.
- Become an advocate: Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.
- Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.
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By: Jennifer Martinez
Posted: 11:16 AM, Sep 11, 2018
Updated: 4:30 PM, Sep 14, 2018