Stigma and stereotyping persons with mental health issues are significant barriers to the social inclusion of persons in recovery. It prevents persons with mental health issues from accepting their condition and seeking help, and it perpetuates a culture of secrecy and a sense of despair. It alienates people and contributes to low self-esteem.
Yet, many people with mental health issues do recover and when they recover, they can function effectively just as anyone else. Persons with mental health issues need to be given a chance to contribute to society and to show what they can do.
Can you tell who has a mental health issue? We can’t.
Yet many around us struggle through daily life with problems related to mental health. These people may be our neighbours, our classmates at school, our family members, and our colleagues at work. To understand how we can best support them, read on.
A note from a person in recovery
“My illness had prevented me from doing many ‘normal’ things, like meeting people or going to work. On really bad days, I couldn’t even leave my room. I was so afraid someone might find out about my diagnosis and I was determined to keep it under wraps. That is, until my life unraveled before me. It was a strange sense, of seeing everything fall apart in my life. I lost some friends, my income, my identity and sense of self-worth. I lost hope.
Noticing my drastic weight loss, the GP prompted some questions pertaining to sleep, appetite, activity, family history, as well as my current home and work environment. That was when he calmly suggested that I might be experiencing Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and arranged for my first visit to the psychiatrist. I really appreciated how that GP has patiently listened to my concerns. He didn’t judge me nor treat me with suspicion. Instead, he brought some clarity as to how MDD could be genetic and triggered by excessive stress, which gave me relief in knowing what was wrong with me and what I needed to do to get better.
With medication and therapy, I’ve come to this realization – that what seemed to be falling apart was actually falling into place. Life, as I know it, has never been the same since. My recovery process had begun with that diagnosis. It gave me the courage I never knew I had, and the insights that came from walking off the beaten path.”
– Nicole Kay, Founder of the Tapestry Project SG
Republished with permission from National Council of Social Service