Stigmas of Mental Health

STOP STIGMATIZING


If you’re overly excited

You’re Happy

If I’m overly excited I’m manic.

If you imagine the phone ringing

You’re stressed out

If I imagine the phone ringing

I’m psychotic.

If you’re crying and sleeping all day

You’re sad and need a time out

If I’m crying and sleeping all day

I’m depressed and need to get up.

If you’re afraid to leave your house at night

You’re cautious

If I’m afraid to leave my house at night

I’m paranoid.

If you speak your mind and express your opinions

You’re assertive

If I speak my mind and express my opinions

I’m aggressive.

If you don’t like something and mention it

You’re being honest

If I don’t like something and mention it

I’m being difficult.

If you get angry

You’re considered upset

If I get angry

I’m considered dangerous.

If you over-react to something

You’re sensitive

If I over-react to something

I’m out of control.

If you don’t want to be around others

You’re taking care of yourself and relaxing

If I don’t want to be around others

I’m isolating myself and avoiding.

If you talk to strangers

You’re being friendly

If I talk to strangers I’m being inappropriate.

For all of the above you’re not told to take a pill or are hospitalized, but I am.

The poem above was given to me by a client diagnosed with schizophrenia and it speaks to the stigmas relating to mental health.

There have been and still are many stigmas that exist within our culture. At one time having HIV or Aids was stigmatized. Remember when Magic Johnson came out to the public about his medical diagnosis? Remember the players who had a problem with it and refused to play on the same basketball court with him? Once upon a time having cancer was something that was kept a secret. When a loved one was diagnosed there was a hush-hush about the illness. The silence was based in fear and caused the person with the condition and their family to suffer alone – in silence. How about the positive correlation between Black people and criminology? Scientist went to great lengths to try and link crime as being the inherent nature of Black people. Scientist also went to work developing a theory which equated the intellect of Black people as being inferior. (Research Charles Darwin who is quoted as being less racist than many of his peers) (See The Bell Curve which is still used in academia to this present day) These messages constitute what is known as scientific racism and unfortunately have a long life span and continue to influence the perception of Black people in a negative light even to this very day.

Stigmas are created out of fear and based on ignorance. STOP IT!

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