A lot of people see mental health stigma as attacks on people with mental health problems, as people who sneer and judge us, or try and deny that mental health is a real issue – that it’s all made up.
However, over the years I’ve noticed it can be in the little things too, someone chiding us for being lazy or withdrawn, despite the fact they know we have depression and/or anxiety. It can be found in the way people will laugh and joke around about self-harm or suicide, some of them don’t even realize the impact they’re having because in their head they’re not doing it maliciously. Mental health stigma can be found in the children and parents who are uninformed about the different mental health issues and how to deal with them.
As my knowledge about my own mental health issues developed, so too did my sensitivity to these comments. It wasn’t even so much the content that bothered me, it was the way they made my depression into something meaningless, something to be laughed and joked about rather than helped. People need to be educated about mental health and its consequences. People should be taught to respect mental health issues, and that making jokes about it contributes to the harm and suffering of people who experience them.
I hope to live in a world where we no longer need mental health awareness days, because everyone is informed and educated about it. They know who to turn to and what to do, they know how to spot the warning signs, or how to tell when something is wrong. Until that day though I am going to be fighting the stigma as much as I can… I’m not depressed, I’m tired. For those of you battling mental illness, it’s OK to have feelings. Don’t let anyone belittle you because you’re going through something.
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– Vernetta 💙