I wrote a little bit about stigma in yesterday's post. Even today, there is still so much ignorance and even discrimination when it comes to mental health. Often, people who are suffering from mental illness know so little about their condition that they don't seek or receive the treatment which they need. The stigma may become shame when it is internalized by someone who is mentally ill. Shame to seek treatment, shame to discuss their illness with others, shame to even admit to themselves that there is a problem.
Aaron Moore is a licensed mental health counselor and co-founder of Solace Counseling in Orlando. He recently wrote an article entitled "Challenging Stigma" for the website To Write Love on Her Arms. What he has to say expresses my thoughts much more eloquently than I could, so I decided to share it here. I think he is right on the mark when he says, "The more we walk through our struggles in silence, the more we deprive others of the benefit of knowing they are not alone." If we were to remove the stigma of depression and mental illness and help prevent people from taking their own lives, those who are struggling should feel comfortable in sharing their stories and those who love and support them should be prepared and willing to listen.
Please read on for the entire article from Mr. Moore:
If TWLOHA [To Write Love On Her Arms] were to update a status for this week, it would read that we feel “hopeful.” Much preparation has gone into 2013’s National Suicide Prevention Week, as it is a unique opportunity to address a topic so often neglected in our world. This week never ceases to be something beautiful, a chance to fight for the lives of loved ones, strangers, maybe even ourselves. At the same time, however, this week can feel like a necessary evil for many of us. It may remind us of those we’ve lost or of our own struggles. In this way, National Suicide Prevention Week is something we wish we did not need, but sadly, we have great reason to engage in. Which is why many organizations and groups are using this time to focus on the stigma and shame that keep these important conversations from happening.