Tag Archives: speak out about mental illness


stigma busters 1

  • Do you know that only one lesson on mental illness could make all the difference to young people whose lives have been thrown tragically off course by no fault brain disorders such as:
  • Depressions
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Panic disorder?

The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness states that nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment.

Innovative lessons can put a human face on mental illness and confront the myths that reinforce the silence. Students learn that mental illness has never been more treatable than today. They can learn to watch for the warning signs of a mental illness and how to overcome the stigma surrounding it. Everybody should hear the following:- Mental illness is nobody’s fault. No one can cause a mental illness. Parents are NOT to blame.

Lorraine Kaplan’s son was smart. At 17, he had top grades, was a debater as well as a top trombonist in his school. But, seemingly overnight, he became obsessive and then began hallucinating. ‘The doctor told us that he had schizophrenia and that we would be walking on eggshells for the rest of our lives,’ said Lorraine. ‘He added: ‘I am going to give you some good advice too. Don’t tell anyone.’ So, for ten years they didn’t tell anybody as the stigma seemed too much to manage.  One day, they realized how many people were in the same position and that contributing to the silence was not the way to go about changing things.  So, Lorraine Kaplan became a  vocal advocate, hoping to change things for the next generation, trying to teach that a mental illness is treatable.

Four of the top ten causes of lifetime disability are severe mental illness. At any point in time, one in every ten adolescents are affected by serious emotional disturbances according to the Academy of Child ad Adolescent Psychiatry in the USA. Of  those needing treatment, less than one in five will receive it. Adolescents experiencing a mental illness often turn to drugs or alcohol, or self-medicate.


Getting Rid of the Guilt by Nina Bingham

Today, I would like to introduce my guest blogger, Nina Bingham whose article you can read below:

Getting Rid of the Guilt by Nina Bingham

Guilt is defined as: feeling responsible for wrongdoing. But isn’t it interesting that we can feel guilt simply for doing something that someone else doesn’t approve of? Guilt is a very confusing emotion. How do we know when it’s right to feel guilty? Freud was the first psychoanalyst to explain guilt; he theorized it as a function of the Superego; that part of our mind which is our moral gatekeeper; the “voice” which helps us distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Freud said that when parental morality was modeled for us in childhood, we internalize it. This internalized voice, better known as our “conscience,” then becomes the guiding force as we age. The average person has what I would call an exaggerated sense of guilt. I believe this is because of the rules which society has imposed on us. As example, an unspoken rule of society is that mental illness is shameful, and therefore should be hidden. I’d like to explore this further, because at least in America, research tells us that 26% of Americans have been diagnosed with a mental illness. This number does not include innumerable people too afraid or ashamed to step forward. Case in point: My daughter was 11 when her father died, and as a result she developed depression. She was 15 before she would admit she needed help, because she was terrified of being stigmatized. She didn’t want to be seen as the “crazy girl” (her words). She’d only been on her anti-depressant for 3 weeks before she secretly stop taking it, and as a result, took her own life. She stopped taking it because she thought she looked too fat in a bathing suit, and was worried the medicine would make her gain weight. She didn’t want to be labeled as mentally ill, and she didn’t want other girls calling her fat. America’s obsession with unrealistic perfection is killing our children…but so is the stigma of mental illness. 90% of suicide completers are people who had a diagnosed mental illness. This should tell us that suicide completers are people who feel ashamed and misunderstood-afraid of being mentally ill because of the cultural stigma. So afraid they would rather not be here. So how do we get rid of the stigma of mental illness? How does the parent of a child that took their own life (due to a mental illness like depression), get free of blaming themselves? If everybody does their part to reduce the stigma, that is, to educate others that it’s a medical problem, not a weakness-perhaps those hiding their symptoms will feel safer talking about it. The best way to reduce the stigma is to get comfortable talking about your own symptoms. You see, stigma comes as a result of NOT talking about it, rather than talking about it. If everybody got comfortable talking about it, there would be no stigma. The next time you’re tempted to feel guilty about something, stop and take a real close look at what’s causing the guilt. Is it yours to take? If you are feeling guilty because you have a mental illness, or your child committed suicide due to a mental illness, the time is now to stand taller than ever before, and to tell the world what is true: mental illness causes suicide, and you have nothing to be guilty for.

Nina Bingham




Thanks very much, Nina.

Mental Health Awareness Week

mental health awareness 3

mental health awareness 2Four years ago, I started blogging in an effort to reduce the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses. I have come a long way since then as the response has been tremendous. I was rather naive in thinking that one person could change anything, but today, I understand, that even if I have helped one person to feel better about themselves or their loved ones, I can call that success.

 I realize that even today, there are people in the world who are short of information on this subject. There are individuals out there who need to make contact with someone who has personal experience of living with an ill relative;  in my case, a son, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I receive mail from people who are desperate for personal contact from someone who has been there and it saddens me that they cannot find help nearer to where they live. I sincerely hope that in time, more and more people will speak out about their experiences, eventually turning the subject of mental illness into  one that is spoken about the way people talk about diabetes, arthritis and other physical illnesses. After all, schizophrenia is a brain illness and our brains are very  much a part of our bodies,  so I ask once again – why the terrible stigma?


Self Stigma

People with a mental illness put up with a lot more than their illness. Stigma contributes a major stress that they can do without. My late son often said; “Stigma and prejudice  are as distressing as my schizophrenia.” Stigma involves inaccurate and hurtful representations portraying  them as comical, violent, or incompetent, dehumanizing them and making them an object of ridicule.

When stigma is used in the media, it can refer to inaccurate stereotypes particularly when sensationalizing issues through unwarranted  references to mental illness, the misuse of terminology or the use of hostile language. Because the media plays such a critical role in shaping and reinforcing community attitudes as well as influencing the way we think, this is particularly harmful.

BUT, the  most harmful effects of stigma occur when it alters the way people view themselves – this is known as self stigma.  SELF STIGMA is the acceptance of prejudiced perceptions  held by others which can lead to a reluctance to seek treatment, excessive reliance on others , social withdrawal as well as poor self-worth.


Feel free to share this on your blog

Jill :- Please feel free to share this on your blog.

‘Jill, – My sincerest thank you for sharing your family’s story with us.  Your book is a wonderful tribute to your late son, David.  By having the courage to share this story, you ensure that the dialogue around mental illness will continue, which ultimately will lead to greater understanding and compassion.  After reading through your blog, I purchased David’s Story trying to find some solace.  Less than five months ago, my 24-year-old brother, Ben, died by suicide.  Although he was never officially diagnosed, there were many similarities between Ben and David.  I shared the book with my family with the hope that they too would find some solace.   It has helped us all with the healing process and has made us feel a little less alone on this journey.  Thank you again for your courage. You are a remarkable and strong woman.  

 My deepest gratitude,

 Holly Neiweem 


The book that Holly referred to is my book – DAVID’S STORY by Jill Sadowsky, available as a kindle book from Smashwords and Amazon.