Combating STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION
Election Day. Veteran’s Day. Thanksgiving Day.
Each one has its meaning and significance for all of us.
People that deal with mental illness (health) issues, are being affected more and uniquely thrroughout the calendar year. Every morning when we wake, not just on the three days above. The words STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION make our overall situations exceedingly tricky, especially during certain times of the year. Here, we will help to combat and lessen those dreaded words.
To move forward is to reflect on the definitions. STIGMA is when one group of humans act or treat others differently because of specific characteristics. When someone is victimized unfairly because they have a mental illness, it is then called DISCRIMINATION. Unfortunately, they are both ways too prevalent in our societies and need to be removed entirely.
Before we can eradicate them, we begin with reduction. Harm Reduction, 101 for those in the know. Of course, ideas and strategies need to be developed. Some of them have been tried, but many of us do not know they even exist. Try not to get labeled and get the help we need. This in itself is STIGMA, often called labeling, whether it be done to us or inflicted by us to others.
Want a hard one, do not believe what they are saying. The old adage,
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”
Indeed, I say it is hard, but we can strive for self-awareness and help ourselves and assist others. To fight STIGMA is not to degrade oneself or let someone else define it; therefore, it is utterly wrong.
DISCRIMINATION of people with Mental Health Issues are not the answer. We are valuable members of a city, a state, a nation, and the world. Many lead productive lives by working, getting a paycheck, spending on what we need to survive, and are responsible for others. Do something about this, write Congress and the President and hold and go to peaceful meetings and discuss equality. Alert the media and spread the word that STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION are still going on. When doing this exercise, be careful what vocabulary is used to talk about these concepts.
Take the time and discuss sports, the weather, or the economy with any one of us because we are intelligent, too. However, due to DISCRIMINATION, we are the ones with Mental Health Issues and not given the same opportunities as the mainstream population. Besides, many remain either underemployed or unemployed while getting much less money to work. Direct and straightforward, THIS IS DISCRIMINATION. Never antagonize anyone and be as peaceful as possible.
I hope that if we begin to use some of these ideas, we can be in less fear with decreasing anxiety and maybe live together as ONE human race. As it is said and as it is written,
“All Men Are Created Equal”
Harsh five words to live by, but it has to be accomplished for people everywhere to exist in harmony. As mentioned over and over again by Mr. Spock in Star Trek,
“Live Long and Prosper”
Also, I wrote this in my previous articles on this topic, and I will state it again, both terms Smust be removed from all the dictionaries, eradicated from our collective vocabularies, plus eliminated from our thought processes, once and for all.
Now we hark back to the first line from the beginning of this piece. Citizens with mental illness or cognitive or emotional impairment are estranged from politics. The disconnected status of the mentally ill and politics smells a lot like STIGMA. There are
Weeks, if not months before Election Day, officials canvas our great nation to find individuals with Mental Health Issues. Their goal is to educate, register, and encourage everyone, including those with these issues, to go through the election process. Ultimately, we can vote, which is the right of all of us. Those in certain areas and cannot travel to voting places offer transportation on Election Day itself.
We turn our attention to reducing and combating STIGMA in Veteran’s Mental Health. Many come back from service duty with a host of mental ailments, but most do not get the assistance they can avail themselves. Military individuals are also disproportionately impacted alongside the many returning veterans. Today, there are more places to assist with their feelings of shame and inadequacy to encourage treatment. In large part, this is impacted by STIGMA.
Throughout time, people have had many things to be thankful for and set aside petty differences. However, STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION often make this more difficult for some individuals with Mental Health Issues to combat the idea of being indebted to anyone. Thanksgiving marks the period to remember the little things and to be grateful for what we have. Although many of us are struggling, we might be able to pick one or two. Whether it be having family or friends, adequate physical and or mental health, or just a place to lay one’s head, there is one item out there. We can win this battle.
Despite STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION, we are appreciative to be alive. Try not to give in to temptation or greed, as they are the roots of evil. Focus on what gives us pleasure and, if all humanly possible, try to do more. Hey everyone, I try to walk, go for a drive and or write almost every day! It helps me to feel better (yea, physically and emotionally), increase my self-awareness and self-esteem, and break the STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION in my head. If I can do it, everyone can do it! At least try one thing.
See you in the News Blogs.
Editor note: This is a series article on Stigma and Discrimination by Howard Diamond.
Read all of Howard’s articles on stigma and discrimination, including STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION ABUSED BY MEDIA by Howard Diamond and STIGMA OR POSSIBLY DISCRIMINATION? .