#Dolphinslivewell: “Breaking The Stigma”

By Justin Thompson '15, President Elect of WLMU

Nobody wants to feel weak, powerless or not in control of a situation especially when it is something personal. Well, despite any internal dilemma you are facing, you are never weak, powerless or not in control. You may be dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, suffering from a mental illness or disability, sexual identity, traumatic experiences, or even those subjected to discrimination, but you always have the ability to stand up to your internal obstacle[s]. Sadly, what you may not have control over is how other people react to it. This may cause you to bottle it up, push it aside and ignore the issue–much like I have done–and that is where the stigma controls you.

What can we do to stop these external obstacles? Honestly, it is easier said than done, but we must talk about them. I have hopes to open the floor to anyone and everyone who wants/needs to talk about what they think is “wrong” with them and how they can beat their stigma. And when can one do this? Anyone looking to hear how others are battling their stigmas, anyone who needs someone to listen to them and offer support and want to do so in a SAFE location, needs not look any further.

In addition to last week’s “Enough is Enough Week”, April 23 [tonight] at 7:00pm in the Science Center Addition Room 101, the Le Moyne Wellness Center for Health & Counseling  and a few students [including myself] will be holding an open floor panel with as much *SAFE* discussion as needed. This is the first step at “Breaking the Stigma” and it starts with you.

What is said in the room stays in the room!!!

*Safe* means that there will be no photos, audio recording or  videos. Note taking should only be used if for self investment and tips that may be beneficial to your person. Everyone’s situation is different and everything shared should be taken in with respect and presented with respect. Solidifying our community is key. If you wish to speak up at the meeting, you do not need to state your name; just be as open as you are comfortable with!  If you wish to share what you have learned here with others who were not present, please do so, but please do so in a positive way and with respect to your peers who are brave enough to share their stories.  This is meant to be a safe zone for all of us.

If you feel you have been a victim of stigma or have seen someone else experience this, you know how painful and debilitating it can be.  Please join us  to share your story or to learn more about how stigma affects others.

The magnitude and burdens of the problem:

  • As many as 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder.
  • Nearly 1 million people commit suicide every year.
  • Four of the six leading causes of years lived with disability are due to neuropsychiatric disorders [depression, alcohol-use disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder].
  • One in four families has at least one member with a mental disorder, and family members are often the primary caregivers of people with mental disorders. The extent of the burden of mental disorders on family members is difficult to assess and quantify, and is consequently often ignored. However, it does have a significant impact on the family’s quality of life.
  • In addition to the health and social costs, those suffering from mental illnesses are also victims of human rights violations, stigma and discrimination, both inside and outside psychiatric institutions.

[Jong-wook, Lee. Investing in Mental Health. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2003. WHO. World Health Organization, 2003. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/investing_mnh.pdf>.]