Quoted from an article by DJ Jaffe (U.S.A.)
STIGMA was eradicated years and years ago in many people who suffer from a no-fault biological disease. For example, STIGMA used to exist in men with prostate cancer as well as in women with breast cancer. It also existed in those with no illness at all like gays, left-handed people. But, they killed stigma and recognized that what they were really suffering from was prejudice and discrimination.
While eliminating STIGMA was relatively easy, requiring only a change in their own thinking, the battle to eliminate prejudice and discrimination was much harder and is still ongoing. Why? because it requires changing others. But, eliminating prejudice and discrimination couldn’t be done without first recognizing that the alleged STIGMA that was preventing everyone from speaking out, didn’t even exist. STIGMA was killed and eeryone moved on to focus on the real enemy: prejudice and discrimination.
MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES should do the same. Simply declare: STIGMA IS DEAD and move on to focus on what really exists: prejudice and discrimination against people with a mental illness. Every country should have a month that is advertised as : STIGMA IS DEAD month. On another occasion is could be converted to END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE MENTALLY ILL month.
Activities should not focus on ‘expanding awareness of mental illness.’ DJ Jaffe feels that current mental illness awareness activities are not only ineffective, but ‘they are harmful.’ Almost all of them are designed to work by hiding the most seriously ill and parading around the highest functioning and least-symptomatic in an effort to convince the public that this somehow reflects the reality of untreated schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It does the exact opposite: it increases awareness of the horrors of the illness. It’s like trying to raise funds for hunger by only showing the well-fed.
We should focus on eliminating the public policies that discriminate against people with a mental illness that cause so many people to become homeless, incarcerated or the victims of suicide.
Stigma is dead. Discrimination and prejudice really exist.