This post is part of a conversation about mental illness, sponsored by Bring Change 2 Mind.
“Mental illness” seems to be a buzzword as of late. Although we hear a lot of talk about mental illness being such a big problem and how we need to do something about it, there doesn’t seem to be much substance to all that talk. It’s more of a vague “Oh, this is bad. Something needs to be done.” Then, as usual, folks move on. (And when we say it’s a “problem,” it’s generally implied that mental illness is a problem in how it affects the rest of us, not for the individuals suffering from mental illness.)
If we’re being honest (heck, let’s, shall we?), when we talk about mental illness it is often negative and fearful. Think about it: When does mental illness usually become part of the national discourse? When there’s a tragedy. That’s not the only time we should care about an issue that affects millions of Americans. And it shouldn’t be the face of mental illness.
An awful lot falls under the umbrella of mental illness — depression, eating disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, and ADD, for example. And, by and large, we don’t really talk about those things. Instead, mental illness gets stigmatized, and it creates a vicious cycle of ignorance, silence, fear, and misunderstanding that doesn’t help anyone, let alone the person suffering from mental illness.
“Stigma” is broadly defined as a collection of adverse and unfair beliefs. The stigma around mental health most often leads to the inaccurate and hurtful objectification of people as dangerous and incompetent. As a result, the shame and isolation associated with the stigma of mental illness prevent people from seeking the help necessary to live healthy and full lives.
That’s why Glenn Close co-founded Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M), a nonprofit organization intended to start conversations about mental health. The goal is to bring discussions about mental illness online to build awareness, understanding, and empathy. That’s what is needed to inspire action to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.
Bring Change to Mind distributes Public Education Materials based on the latest scientific insights and measured for effectiveness. The organization acts as a portal to a broad coalition of organizations that provide service, screening, information, support, and treatment of mental illness.
As a national anti-stigma campaign, its aim is to remove misconceptions about mental illness. The idea for Bring Change 2 Mind was born out of a partnership between Glenn Close and Fountain House, where Glenn volunteered in order to learn more about mental illness. It’s personal for Glenn, as both her sister Jessie and her nephew Calen live with mental illness.
Has mental illness affected your life? Open up, talk about it, reach out to others by sharing your story. While I’ve discussed depression before, it remains a topic that I rarely (if ever) talk about. The stigma is just too much to bear. That means I don’t talk about mental illness and mental health challenges. And that means I don’t get the support (or the help) I need. That simply has to stop. it’s not helpful, it’s not healthy, and it’s not
Learning about the experiences of others can help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and give those who are suffering the courage to seek help. You can read their stories as well as watch their stories. You can also engage on social media with the hashtag #MindOurFuture.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please call the Crisis Hotline: 800.273.TALK (8255).