Fight Stigma Like A Ninja
First I'd like to apologize for not making a post in a while. I have been very super busy with real life matters and other projects taking place for Mental Health Awareness Retreat. We will actually be expanding very very soon to Real Life. Thank you all for understanding =]
Now on to today's post....
Imagine if Martin Luther King didn't speak up for civil rights.
Imagine if everyone else who stood up for white and black equality also remained in silence.
Imagine if Rosa park did take that seat in the back of the bus prior to the civil rights movements. Would she still have been seen as a change or would she had been killed or punished?
Imagine Women never taking a stand and speaking up for equality.
Imagine all of the HIV/AIDS advocates in silence.
Imagine all of the other illnesses advocates in silence.
Imagine all of the gay right movements not taking a stand and speaking up and every single gay person walked in shame...in silence.
Do you really think there would be change? Do you really think that people in silence would have made a difference?
I don't know about you but I strongly believe NOT!
This post is inspired by reading Bremen's post One Mans Wish. Mental Health Awareness Retreat had chosen to honor Bremen for his advocacy work as he spoke to students about mental health, wrote blogs and did other advocate works. But I never in a million years thought he was telling students "never to say a word to their employer or anyone else that they don't absolutely trust that they have a mental illness such as depression".
Due to this, Mental Health Awareness Retreat has decided to stop all honors unless we completely know for sure what a person is really advocating.
Silence as we have seen through history solves nothing and does nothing.
If we wonder what speaking up equals to just look at the changes in civil rights, women rights, gay rights, HIV/AIDS rights, and many other countless of movements that created changes. Is there room for growth in all of these areas? I am certain there is room. But one thing is certain....things have changed for the better in all of these areas.
When it comes to mental health, there has! been many improvements and we need to celebrate those victories. Thanks to advocates like Howie the Harp, we have outpatient programs and peer specialist counseling training and jobs, which gives people with mental illnesses a job to help others recover as they have done the same. In fact, studies show that peer to peer help is very productive in recovery and healing from mental illness. I can go on and on about many changes that were made in mental health all due to the amazing advocates that decided to take a stand and speak up.
The problem is that lately more people are ashamed due to stigma or organizations sell themselves short all in the name of making a profit more than making a change. And some have a fear of losing people in their life or losing their job or anything else, but what if speaking up meant that you will gain more than you will lose?
I personally have spoken up about my issues and I have YET to experience losing someone over it. To be honest I lost more people when I was not educated on the matter and I, myself, pushed all my friends away. I was the one who didn't call my friends due to shame. I was the one who didn't want to go out with my friends because I had hallucinations (auditory and visual) and thought they would judge me. When in fact, when I finally decided to tell a friend they totally supported me! loved me! and included me in many of their outings.
I took it a step further (after educating my family who also loved me and accepted me just for me and didn't judge me) and I started spreading the word in SL. I thought to myself, alright this is it....designers are going to call me crazy, people are going to publicly shame me, I am going to get harassed and so forth. But I knew I wanted to be the change I wanted to see. I wonder how many other people felt shameful about themselves and so alone due to it. I wonder how many others felt they couldn't talk to someone else because they wouldn't truly understand them. I wanted to see people love a person with a mental illness like they do cancer and other health issues. I knew silence wouldn't make that difference.
Today more then 100 SL designers have joined the cause of supporting mental health. Thousands of life have been touched, transformed, and educated on mental health via Mental Health Awareness Retreat. And I look back and wonder....what if I had done what Bremen advises his students and had remained silent unless I truly, truly trusted. I look back and see all of the changes made and I am very glad I spoke up. I found that countless of people were feeling just like I did. That it really is true that 1 out of 4 people experience a mental health issue and therefore they can relate to some of my symptoms. I found out that I was not alone. And most importantly I found out that I really can make a difference, even if with one person.
Every time I get discouraged because thousands of people chose to be silent and not stand up to fight against mental health stigma or for mental health rights (hence why I wrote My Wish Right Now), I always remind me myself that if it helps one person then this was all worth it.
Bremen is right about one thing...many mental health organizations out there if you take a close look, will NOT do anything to help the mentally ill. In fact they are the ones that further help create stigma. Perhaps is because they pocket money from these corporations and companies?
Take for example NAMI who posted 60 Minutes: Here's the full story just recently. Almost everything in this video is center on the violence of mental health illness. NAMI goes on to saying "NAMI applauds CBS news for the report and especially those individuals who courageously participated in the interviews." If you go on reading you will realize WHY they support such a stomach turning (at least that is how I feel since it is highly stigmatized) interview. "We are also grateful that CBS news included on the 60 minutes website at the end of each story's text the following editors note: Families in need of help with a mentally ill child can find resources at (NAMI)." They support this highly stigmatizing interview because in turn they are supported by a multi million dollar media. Sad!
In the end this doesn't help end stigma, it only helps further spread it. And this is why I stand up and speak up, and you should too.
We should fight stigma like a ninja =]
I still stand by my wish...that one day we will all stand up together, united as one, like other great movements to bring about positive changes for mental health and not sell out to companies and corporations for money or use an organization just to profit and yet not do anything that equals change.
Will you join me today to take a stand and speak up about mental health? Will you spread the word and educate on mental health? Will you be the change that you wish to see?
Take a look at Zombie Suicide's limited edition mask and more of what I am wearing HERE