The Stigma of Mental Illness
What is “NORMAL?”
Dear Mental Health Advocate:
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign there was a great deal of discussion surrounding mental illness and our healthcare system. While the conversation reinforced the need for reform…it may have done more harm than good.
The media’s focus on issues surrounding individuals with “severe” mental illness served to downplay the fact that nearly 50% of all people in the United States will develop at least one mental health condition during their lifetime. According to the CDC, National surveys estimate (at least) 1 in 5 adults currently have a mental health condition; 56% of whom are not receiving treatment.
The fact is…mental “illness” is more prevalent than the common flu (estimated at 5-20% per year). And left untreated…far more complex issues can develop. Yet stigma continues to deter many from getting the support they need. Until we illustrate the prevalence of mental “disorders;” society will continue to deny that what we have defined as “normal,” is just a fraction of a bell curve.
Consider how many struggle on a daily basis; “appearing” to function at work, while actually hanging on by a mere thread. These “typical” citizens remain reluctant to seek treatment, and are too fearful to request accommodations at work. In fact, many of the politicians, who advocate for increased spending and policy reform, have themselves, hidden amongst a crowd of stockings, suits, and ties.
In truth, the ADA cannot protect employees from stigma, or unconscious bias in the workplace; and the risk of disclosure endures. While the majority of employers strive to implement comprehensive diversity initiatives, focusing on racial, cultural, religious, age, sexual orientation, and physical disabilities; few have addressed mental “differences.” Despite the fact that an inclusive environment is likely to augment the bottom line; few employers have taken steps to embrace and support mental diversity within their organizations.
In order to bridge the diversity gap, MindingDiversity.org has created a survey to help shed light on the common realities of the U.S. workforce, and to Bring Diversity to Mind! By joining together (anonymously, if necessary); we can explore the various ways people function, behave, process information, and cope with stress. This information can provide insight as to how others can thrive as well. Removing stigma will give us the “luxury” to ask questions, and learn from those who are now thriving, subsequent to seeking treatment; rather than focusing on those at rock bottom.
If you have a mental condition…and are working (at least part time); we hope you will share a few minutes to complete our survey. Subsequently, please invite friends, colleagues, family members, and those you have met (in local support groups, around town, at work, at school, online, or anywhere else you can imagine) to complete our survey as well. We would like to discover those rare organizations, which encourage disclosure, and support individuals with mental “differences.” Our hope is to inspire everyone to join us in Bringing Diversity to Mind!
In addition to revealing the prevalence of mental “illness,” examining the language and labels used by medical practitioners, the ill conceived stereotypes maintained throughout society, and the misconceptions reinforced by the media (especially with regard to violence); will be necessary. Until we address these issues, society will make limited progress toward embracing diversity, eliminating stigma, and ensuring authentic “inclusion” for all.
Thank you for being part of the “solution.”
The Advocates @ MindingDiversity.org
We are Uniquely United on Facebook
P.S. Little progress can be made in improving our world…until we address the stigma of mental illness. The final question within our survey asks…
- What would you like to tell our politicians?
- What role would you like the government to play in helping to “Bring Diversity to Mind?”
We look forward to sharing your feedback.
Be Counted! Illuminate Mental Diversity at Work.
There is safety (AND strength) in numbers. “All for one, and one for all.
Suggestions, feedback, comments, and questions welcomed at MindingDiversity@aol.com
© September 16 , 2017