STIGMA is defined as a sign of disgrace or discredit which sets a person apart from the rest of us.
STIGMA is a marker for adverse experiences, amongst them, a sense of shame, and is still perceived as a sign of weakness.
STIGMA makes it difficult to get access to resources.
STIGMA means being reviled and becoming invisible.
STIGMA brings with it intense shame, resulting in a feeling of decreased self-worth.
STIGMA is connected to secrecy.
STIGMA causes anger that results in keeping one’s distance.
STIGMA leads to hopelessness.
STIGMA leads to helplessness.
STIGMA forces people to remain in the closet.
STIGMA causes added stress in families.
STIGMA leads to blame.
LET US ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT NO ONE CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT HOPE
‘Dr. D. Jaffe writes that STIGMA is dead. He says people decided one day that there was to be no stigma to having AIDS for example. It was no longer going to continue to be a mark of shame or a token of disgrace, so they killed the stigma. He points out that people also decided that there was no longer going to be a stigma to being gay, having cancer or being left handed, for example. By killing stigma, they recognized that what they were really suffering from was prejudice and discrimination. Whilst 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 the changing of others. The alleged stigma preventing people from speaking out wouldn’t even exist. In other words, stigma was dead and people moved on to focus on the real enemy – prejudice and discrimination.’
As a mental health advocate, maybe I should focus on the above. What would happen if I declared that stigma was dead and move on to focus on what really exists: Prejudice and discrimination against people with a mental illness?
Dr. Jaffe suggested that during May 2014, Mental Health Awareness Month, it should be celebrated as STIGMA IS DEAD month, and the following year converted to END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE MENTALLY ILL MONTH.
Quite a lot to think about here and I would appreciate comments.