Mental Illness affects everyone at some point in their life either directly, being diagnosed with a mental illness, or indirectly, having a friend or loved one diagnosed with one. Add to that the scourge of substance use disorder, addiction, and drug dependence, and the picture is very bleak.
It gets even worse with people suffering from depression, anxiety, and bi-polar to name a few mental disorders and being afraid to say anything. They seem to not want to admit that they are in psychological discomfort or emotional pain and anguish. So they say nothing, they do nothing, and they ask for no help. They simply suffer in silence, to ashamed to admit that they are hurting, fragile, and about to collapse.
Why we ask? Why didn’t they say something, why didn’t they reach out? Well it’s because of the shame and embarrassment, it’s because of the stigma, that those afflicted with a mental illness choose to suffer in silence. Because many times in this society for to many of us, to admit that you are overwhelmed, stressed out, or feeling that you are mentally out of sorts are taboo. To admit that your problems and challenges seem to be getting the best of you is frowned upon and is considered a sign of weakness. To disclose that you are seeing a therapist or that you are in therapy regarding your mental and emotional state of being is considered in many quarters as the “dirty little secret” that no one must ever know. So it’s time to break through the silence. It’s time to break down the walls and barriers that cause far too many to feel they have to go it alone.
Let’s start to understand that the stigma can only be eradicated when we start focusing on Mental Wellness and stop focusing on Mental Illness. Let’s be aware of the language we use also. Examine the word “Ill”; it starts with the letter “I”, as in “I am ill”. In other words, this is someone who is fighting their battle all alone. Now look at the word “Health” – it starts with the word “Heal”. Lastly let’s examine the word “Wellness”. The first two letters in the word “wellness” are “w and e”, or “We”. So I am “Ill” and “We” are well. “Together “We” can help people “Heal”.
If you live in the New York/Long Island area Tune into (Z-100), WHTZ 100.3 FM, or Z100.com on Sunday, October 2, 2016 from 6am to 6:30 and Listen to members of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness describe services they provide, what they are doing to erase the Stigma of Mental Illness, promote Mental Health and Wellness, and highlight activities they are sponsoring for Mental Health Awareness Week, from October 2nd to October 8th. For more details on the broadcast you can view the full promo flier here. Thank you.
UPDATE: The full audio clip is available now below.
Silas W. Kelly: LMSW, CMHT, “Social Work Media Specialist”
NASW Member, NYS Chapter, Suffolk Division Chair/Director