The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Princess Kate, and the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, sponsor an organization called Heads Together*. It is an organization that speaks to the issues of mental health stigma in general, and the effect of that stigma on PTSD sufferers in particular. By promoting open conversations about mental health issues, Heads Together promotes understanding of, and seeking treatment for, mental health challenges for military people. Along with their own programming, Heads Together partners with a number of UK charities already doing great work in fighting the stigma that often prevents people from getting the help they need.
Attached here is one of the many conversations that has taken place under the auspices of Heads Together.
* (It is very much like the organization that Dr. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama started here in the USA, called Joining Forces.)
I just finished reading an article, in the New York Times, of an interview with Glenn Close and Patrick Kennedy entitled, Glenn Close and Patrick Kennedy on the Weight of Mental IllnessThey were being interviewed by Philip Galanes about their respective interest in the fight for better understanding of the mental health issue and the stigma attached to that illness. Glenn Close started an organization called BringChange2Mind(BC2M), because she was deeply effected by the fact that her sister and nephew have had a long battle with bipolar disorder. Patrick Kennedy started an organization called the Kennedy Forum, and Mr. Kennedy has also written a memoir entitled A Common Struggle. Both endeavors are as a result of his own struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder. Both BC2M and the Kennedy Forum are speaking to the history of the stigma of mental health illness and how that stigma needs to be eradicated. You can access the article through the hyperlink above, and attached below is the article itself, which is well worth reading. Please take what will be a well invested ten minutes to read it.
You can be the first in your family. That’s what the poster would say. BE THE FIRST IN YOUR FAMILY. The poster would not be suggesting that you be the first person in your family to graduate from high school, attend college, or own the latest invention. The poster’s message would be encouraging you to be the first person in your family to have the courage to acknowledge and seek help for a mental health problem. Obviously you may never know if you are the first in your family to have to face this issue. The only thing you can assume is that no one before you had your courage to acknowledge a mental health problem. Mental illness was a topic that lived deep inside the closet with other family scandals. It lived behind the door, under the photos, and under the old sheets. But it doesn’t need to be buried going forward. YOU can be the first in your family to unveil your truth, and to seek help. YOU can be the first in your family to step beyond any boundaries of shame and begin to educate those close to you. Let them know that you have a mental illness, that it is a medical condition, and that you have stepped up to the challenges that accompany this illness. Let them know that you have decided to no longer live in denial and shame. Let them know that you want to live as good a life as you can, and in order to do that you are taking charge and seeking help. Help is good. Help is helpful. Educate your family. Educate your friends. Educate the community around you. Show them that not withstanding your mental illness, you are successful, and creative, and happy.