Stomp your feet. Bang the drums. Shout from the roof tops. I do believe the conversation about mental health is finally changing. Slowly, people are beginning to talk and write about the mental health world and all of its issues. There are blogs in which people write about their own experiences with a mental health issue. There are blogs that present academic treatises about mental health issues. There are television shows that contain segments about the topic. There are ads on television and in print that speak to the issue of medication that could help someone with a mental health malady. Those ads are right up there with the ads about aspirins, tampax and adult diapers. It is exciting to see the news coverage about mental health. It is exhilarating to read the many articles that are now being written about mental health issues. It is downright fantabluous that people are beginning to talk about their own experiences with mental health issues. Our population is waking up to the fact that mental health issues are a part of the string of illnesses that effect many people. Mental illness is diagnosable and treatable, and it is no different in its essence than diabetes, and therefore should not carry any stigma with its diagnosis. A once verboten subject of conversation, the mental health issue has found its way into our more conventional airwaves and cyberwaves. In short, more people are talking about and thinking about the world of mental health issues.
The Today Show, a very mainstream morning program, covers mental health topics regularly. Whether one watches the program live or heads to the Today Show website, one will find topics about PTSD therapy dogs, men and depression, and the onset of autumn blahs, just to name a few subjects. The topics are treated respectfully, and people are always encouraged to seek professional help if they exhibit any symptoms discussed or have questions. Readers and watchers are also told that mental illness is diagnosable, treatable, and medical in nature. It is not a figment of the mind.
Online, conversations are being started and projects are being initiated with regard to mental health issues. Plug into your browser the words “mental illness stigma” and your search will lead you to a number of sites providing hours of reading. Some of the writing is very academic, but a lot of it is personal. People are openly sharing their challenges with this illness. The resulting knowledge creates better understanding. And the conversation continues to expand every day. Join the conversation. Share your stories. Talk.
This week marks the one year anniversary of my writing this blog, anxietymusings.wordpress.com. This blog was started as an assist to help me stand up to and eliminate the stigma that is attached to mental health illness. Having an anxiety disorder, I was very aware of this stigma, and wanted to be proactive in helping to reduce the stigma, and perhaps one day get rid of it entirely. Until this moment, I have been using a pen name to sign my posts, but it is time for me to come out of the closet from where I have been writing, and to write under my given name. Close friends and most of my family knew that I was writing about mental health issues. But I justified not using my own name to the wider audience because I was protecting my family. I did not want any possible backlash to affect them. The real truth is that I was not ready to open up to the world. I was scared of the stigma. Today I am ready.
My name is Leslie Pontz.
Below are related links.
While I was doing research online for my blog, I discovered quite a few organizations that were established specifically to speak to the issue that is so near and dear to my heart. GET RID OF THE STIGMA THAT SURROUNDS MENTAL HEALTH DISEASE. There are more advocates speaking up about that stigma than I ever imagined, and I happily read their websites for hours, truly excited about finding this treasure trove of validation.
Brandon Marshall, in conjunction with his wife Michi, started Project 375, an organization whose sole purpose is to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health illness. Marshall himself had shown signs of erratic behavior, but thought he needed to tough it out and remain stoic in the face of his problems. That stoicism was not working. In 2011, Marshall, a highly respected NFL wide receiver, had a decision to make. Either get the help he needed for his erratic behavior, or Michi was leaving. Devastated by the possibility of losing his wife, Marshall checked himself into a psychiatric hospital, and there he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. He spent the next three months at the hospital getting therapy, during which time Marshall realized that being stoic was not the same as being strong. Instead, he found that it took strength and courage to own his illness and get the help that he desperately needed. After a period in therapy, his personal and professional life began to stabilize. As a result of the progress that Michi witnessed, Michi and Brandon reunited. Marshall and Michi now speak out about his disease, their journey, and the mission of Project 375 to eradicate the stigma of mental health disease and disorders. Project 375 is making a particular effort to reach out to the male population that is resistant to owning any mental health issues. Through their programs, Brandon and Michi are trying to educate men to understand that it takes strength, not weakness, to seek the help needed to learn how to live with a mental health disorder. I was very impressed with this organization and its goal of promoting healing through understanding, and promoting the principle of speaking out and speaking up – of coming out of that old stuffy closet. Continue reading Speaking Out And Speaking Up