Mental health is getting a lot of attention these days, and that’s a good thing.
While our team at Flatrock believes it is a topic to discuss year-round, Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 4-10) gives us an opportunity to open up conversation, educate and share experiences.
One of the initiatives the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting this week is “Stigma free.” This is an important topic that is near and dear to those who suffer from mental health conditions, and those who care for them. Stigma speaks to the prejudice and intolerance often unfairly associated with mental illness.
NAMI reports that one in five Americans suffering from mental health conditions share that stigma has harmed them. Stigma fosters shame and prevents them from seeking help.
Stigma is bred from misperceptions, ignorance and fear. Some of the ways stigmatizing those who have mental health conditions can cause harm is through alienating them from society.
If they are perceived as “others” and apart — or assumed dangerous — they cannot fully integrate into a community. This cruelty can prevent individuals from obtaining safe housing and other opportunities. We have seen firsthand in some communities where we have developed new housing locations how those who are miseducated about mental health can promote fear and intolerance in the community which adversely affects the quality of life for our residents.
Acceptance, tolerance and sensitivity are all goals we should have as we weave the fabric of our communities. Will you take the pledge to be Stigma free?