Tag: stigma reduction
If we are going to really make a difference in the world of mental health stigma, we must get to the heart of the matter. All people deserve compassionate, honest care. All people, stigmatized and stigmatizers, deserve to be heard, understood, and valued, no matter what worth that society may place on them. I am my brother’s keeper. You are mine.
Public perception of mental health stigma does not entirely reflect a reality that exists. Many of you reading this that have experienced truly negative reactions from others (due to mental health concerns and/or treatment) may be angered or offended by this proposition. However, no one (especially myself) is saying that stigma is not a serious concern that doesn’t need to be addressed. It is. Although in some ways I do feel that people can seek out treatment with less apprehension today than decades ago, there is no doubt that many still experience negative reactions (intentionally or unintentionally) from what others perceive in them.
Experiencing emotional pain is a necessary part of life. Emotional pain often contains valuable lessons to help us on our journeys. We need to make sure we are not numbing our hearts to those that are hurting. We need to de-stigmatize the struggles, joys and pains that come with being human. We need to not just mindlessly pursue happiness - though we might think of that as an inalienable right - and avoid pain. We need to do the only thing that brings true joy: embrace all of life and each other, as we experience together all that makes us human.
If you haven't heard about the Village Shalom shooting yet, it happened. This time it's my own community. So I when I list these 9 ways to stop the next Village Shalom shooting know that I speak with full love and compassion. The main thing I want to share is the real story about mental health. Emotional distress can be temporary and transformative. Recovery can mean, "All this goes away."
When children do things like recoil in fear from monsters and ghosts in their darkened bedroom at night, it’s easy to see the “out of touch with reality” aspect of their experience as being closely related to the faculty that gives them their ability to play – their imagination. We help children through such challenging experiences by being with them, and by playing together, doing things like creating scary images together and then figuring out how to cope with them or laugh at them. In the process we help them explore how to create a world view that works to at least some extent and has room for joy and originality - when their imagination helps them (and maybe others) see the world in new ways.
The last four years I've been running Poetry for Personal Power, a stigma reduction campaign funded by SAMHSA. Poetry for Personal Power has been going to Missouri Universities and asking students what they do to get through hard times and we now have about 400 incredible videos on You-Tube, with youth wellness tools.
I wasn't sure how to judge mental health first aid. I kept asking friends taking the course but it's hard to get a good assessment if they don't understand the risks of labels and medication. People need to understand that in order to hear how sometimes things that are intended to help can actually harm.
I just got back from the Carter Center Mental Health Symposium on Social Inclusion. I guess this is a prestigious invite, and I was expecting to meet people on the cutting edge of mental health research. I got invited based on my work with the Poetry for Personal Power program where I've helped get together over 1800 young people to talk on stage or listen to each other talking about what they do to get through adversity.