For those who live with serious mental health conditions, stigma is constant companion. It follows them like a shadow they can’t escape, defining them by their illnesses in the minds of others and coloring the way they are seen in their communities with misconceptions. It causes them to be avoided or ignored at best, and often leads to discrimination and mistreatment. Continue reading
The Well Community is made up of over 200 adults who come from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences. They are drawn together at The Well because of one common cord. Each shoulders the burden of chronic and severe mental illness. When one member shares their story of ineffective treatments, loss of jobs, families, dignity, the others nod in shared understanding. When another tells of the heartache of “being different,” of being misunderstood or being mistreated, the others echo the pain.
In our new video, Echoes from The Well, five of our members give us a glimpse into their worlds and a brief look at how The Well Community has brought life back into their lives.
Oscar Brown is in the kitchen of Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, passing out paper plates filled with salad and pizza. He’s there to serve at Thursday Night Life, a weekly gathering when members of The Well Community are invited to worship and enjoy a hot meal together. Volunteers like Brown prepare the meal, then serve it to the members after a time of music and Bible teaching. Continue reading
Mental illnesses impact people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. While treatment can make these conditions more manageable, many minority populations face challenges that make it more difficult for them to get the care they need. When left untreated, mental health issues can become more severe and can make life with them increasingly difficult to navigate. Continue reading
Stigma makes living with a mental health difficulty even more challenging. It reinforces negative attitudes about mental illnesses and encourages prejudice against those who struggle with them. The National Alliance for Mental Illness puts it this way: “Stigma reflects prejudice, dehumanizes people with mental illness, trivializes their legitimate concerns, and is a significant barrier to effective delivery of mental health services.”[i]
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to learn more about the mental health conditions that affect 43.8 million Americans every year—including people you know. Learning about mental illnesses is the first step to standing up against stigma and supporting those who struggle.
1. Mental illness is common.
Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. One in five Americans experiences an episode of mental illness each year. Continue reading
Stigma is an all-too-common experience for those dealing with mental illnesses. For members at The Well, it does its damage daily.
The majority of those who live with mental illness experienece the pain of stigma. In fact, just one in four people with mental health symptoms believe that others are caring and sympathetic to those living with mental illnesses.
Stigma sets people apart in the eyes of others, so that they’re lumped together with a stereotyped group and considered unworthy of respect. It defines people as their illness and gives them a mark of disgrace, perpetuating negative attitudes and prejudice toward them.
Stigma hurts those with mental illnesses in many ways, including preventing them from seeking care and encouraging discrimination toward them. But, each one of us can help to stop stigma, and in turn, stand up for those who face it. Continue reading