Stigma has a drastic effect on a person who has a mental illness.
Actually, it effects anyone who has ever been discriminated against for something that is beyond their control.
Stigma effects everyone.
Whether you have been judged for your weight, your skin, and part of your appearance. Or your beliefs, personal (or not) choices, your sexuality or lifestyle, you’ll likely know how much that negative response really sucks.
Especially when you realise that another person really has no say or purpose in what or who you want to be, it’s not their job to control any aspect of your life (because it’s not their life to live).
They have no right to judge, and neither do we.
What right do we have to comment on someones life, when we can never really fit inside their shoes? – judgement is blind.
I was taught by my college sociology tutor that stigma is essentially defined as a negative label. It’s pretty simple to think about.
Anything we decide to hate and throw abuse at, that’s us creating or adding to stigma.
The stigma against mental health is something that has personally affected me and has affected the level of care that I have access too in the current day.
Stigma has done more damage to my life than any physical or mental injury.
It became apparent that stigma played a huge part in my father’s suicide, before and after his death.
Suddenly I was ‘the girl who’s father killed himself‘ and apparently my dad was ‘selfish‘ for doing so (which is really horrible to say to someone who is grieving fyi).
It has made stigma something I resent with every fibre inside of me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that over the years I have been part of that stigma.
We all say and do things before we understand, that turn out to be things we regret; but what is important is that we learn from it.
I just can’t understand why the world is more preoccupied with other people’s harmless business, when we can just let people be happy.
My rule of thumb is that, if the person is not at risk and there is no real harm coming to other people, then leave it be.
However, we need to consider the effect it has on those without.
How the people who create and fuel the stigma may be affected by their actions in the present day.
Just stay with me while I explain..
For example, if the stigma lowers funding and support for people seeking help for their mental health, it affects the future of all of us. Hear me out.
A stigmatized society does more damage than a society with an open outlook.
If a person believes in the stigma, and they go through a trauma, such as grief or something that leaves them with a form of mental illness. Would they be able to seek support?
Would they even have a chance to access the said support?
All it takes is one doctor, family member, teacher or anyone with contact to the community, to decide that they don’t believe in mental health, to prevent progress in making the world more friendly and inclusive to our mental well-being.
Lowering stigma in our homes and in our society means that we are not just working to change the now, we are working to change our future.
If a parent allows their children to see them cry. If our schools teach students about mental health as much as they teach about sex education.
If doctors see past the textbooks and work with their empathy. Things could be better.
We may have a future that isn’t certain, but removing stigma can at least allow us to ensure mental health care for our future selves and our families.
I think that by fuelling stigma, we are not just failing others but we are failing ourselves.
So, I ask you this, please don’t push yourself or others away when they need help. Don’t ignore feelings and emotions.
Don’t make life about society, make it about the person you actually are.
When we look after our well-being, only then can we actually live a life that we enjoy.