It's all too easy to label as diagnostic any facet of the enormously complicated gamut of human emotion and behavior we do not understand or do not endorse. This is especially true in these days of increased anger and violence and fear. The harm done by these labels wounds us all.
The experiences these men had navigating complex social networks, confronting cultural ideals of masculinity, and depending on one another for behavioral health information were clearly relevant to my work. I decided then to transfer my proposal from Africa to 176th Street.
Changing the conversation about mental health means making care for mental health as matter of fact as going to get treatment for asthma or a broken leg. What good sense that makes. But even those of us who aren't currently suffering from mental health problems stand to gain.
A few years ago, we at Positively Aware came up with the idea of A Day with HIV, an anti-stigma photo campaign that has begun to tear down the walls of shame and silence that surround HIV by showing that, even in the face of HIV, life goes on.
Mental health illnesses should be treated no differently than any physical illness in the body. The days of stigmatizing mental illness, of turning our backs on those who need our help, of walking away from this problem, are over.
For those who are infected with HIV, suffering alone, without the much-needed support of family and friends is extremely difficult but the fear associated with revealing their 'status' is as great as their need for support.
This was a major turning point in my life. It didn't make sense to me, and it did not seem right. It is one of the reasons I gave up my former career path, went back to school, and became an infertility counsellor.
With all of the incredible advances in care for mental illness, there is a huge roadblock between people and the treatment they need: the stigma and shame that pervade our culture regarding mental illness.
Coworkers occupy peculiar in-between roles in our lives. Most days, we spend at least half of our waking hours with them. Disclosing our personal problems to them can offer advantages, generating social support, or can prompt stigma and discrimination.
There's nothing quite like "placing" an elderly family member in a "facility" to conjure up feelings of guilt and shame and anger and, yes, failure. None of those feelings was communicated to us in any way by my father-in-law.
For nearly 25 years, Patty Duke has traveled around the country educating audiences on brain disorders such as hers and speaking out about the stigma that goes along with being diagnosed with a "mental illness."
There was a time when I wasn't willing to admit I had an eating disorder. After all, I was supposed to be on top of everything -- a good example for my school, my family, God, my race... and the list continued. An eating disorder didn't fit into that equation.
From the first second Yonas Tadess enters the gates of the school, it is evident that he is the big man on campus. The stigma that is usually applied to disabled people in Ethiopia does not apply to him.
In an era in which all groups, even the historically empowered majority, see themselves as victims of bias, deciding from which direction to combat the problem of discrimination will only continue to become an increasingly difficult task.