Mental Health and the Stigma

Mental Health and the Stigma attached is something that haunts many of us with a mental illness history. I am tired of being stigmatized because I have a mental illness. Society punishes me for “the sins of the father”(NKJ Bible, Exodus 34:6-7). I did not ask to be sexually abused as a child. I did not ask to have depression, anxiety, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) as a result of that abuse, but I do. So what can I do?

The Stigma of Mental Illness

First, learn some facts about mental illness and stigma. According to the Mental Health Commission three out of four people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma. Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labeled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

And according to NAMI’s Fact Sheet it further defines stigma and what it leads to which in the nutshell is discrimination:

  • What is Stigma?
    • An attempt to label a particular group of people as less worthy of respect than others.
    • A mark of shame, disgrace or disapproval that results in discrimination.
    • Not just a matter of using the wrong word or action – it’s about disrespect
  • What does Stigma have to do with Mental Illness?
  • Stigma leads to …
    • Inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services
    • Fear, mistrust, and violence against people living with mental illness and their families
    • Family and friends turning their backs on people with mental illness
    • Prejudice and discrimination
  • Discrimination against people who have mental illnesses keeps them from seeking help.
    • While 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental disorder, estimates indicate that nearly two-thirds of all people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, especially people from diverse communities. 
    • Lack of knowledge, fear of disclosure, rejection of friends, and discrimination are a few reasons why people with mental illness don’t seek help.
    • Discrimination against people with mental illness violates their rights and denies them opportunities. Despite Civil Rights Law such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with mental illnesses often experience discrimination in the workplace, education, housing, and healthcare.

So What Do We Do?

What do we do about the stigma of mental illness? How do we fight against the discrimination in health insurance, housing, and the job market?

  1. Don’t take it personally. If someone’s ignorance and lack of knowledge is evident by their language and conversation, the worst thing you can do is react defensively. This empowers the other person’s words and assumes you are threatened by their response. It suggests there is some truth in what they say.
  2. Educate yourself with some statistics about mental illness. According to Psych Central:
    • One million people die from suicide around the globe. Over 30,000 people worldwide suffer from depression.
    • Suicide takes more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, and AIDS.
    • Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
    • 90 percent of people won’t get adequate treatment.
    • 80 percent would rather live with pain than do something about it.
  3. Own your story. Your story is the only one you own. You can tell your own experiences and story about how you are being helped. Those listening can’t disagree because it’s your story, not theirs.
  4. Stick to science and genetics. Nothing fights ignorance like the use of physiologic terms and neurobiology when speaking about your illness. Don’t forget to throw in genetics and how this affects my illness and mood disorders and the predisposition of your illness related to specific genes.
  5. And last, walk away. If the conversation frustrates you and the other person’s ignorance continues, you can either walk away and repeat…Don’t take it personally.

So now armed with information to fight those that insist on treating us with prejudice and ignorance. I can stand up for myself with dignity and educate those who insist on attaching a stigma to my name and my illness. So can you. Are your ready to stand up and fight?

See you next blog,







Her mind was a montage
of thoughts and images:
photographs in past tense;
thoughts in present tense.
The collage that she saw
abstract, one-dimensional.
A mosaic of past abuses
and present brooding.
Would this montage let go
and leave her consciousness?
Would the brooding past
escape the confines of her mind?
So many images and thoughts
twirling about in her mind.
So many possibilities within
her current of thought.
To where could she escape
without taking her montage
with her to distant terrain?
No self-evident escape plan.
Her mind was a montage…

30 Day Attitude of Gratitude Challenge Day 30-Turn, Turn, Turn


Today is the last day of the 30 Day Attitude of Gratitude Challenge. In closing this challenge, I chose the lyrics to a song for the quote. The song was most popular in the 60’s during the Vietnam War (although the politicians did not call it a war) and was part of the protest in the 60’s against war and for peace. It can also be interpreted as a song about a time and purpose to all things. Today my ending is of this current challenge of gratitude.

The lyrics to the song were taken almost verbatim from the Bible Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes with only some minimal changes to wording and the verses being set to music by Phil Seeger. Phil Seeger is best known for his band, The Byrds and the song chosen is “Turn, Turn, Turn.”

The Quote… 

The quote I chose is:

Turn! Turn! Turn! 

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace.
A time to refrain from embracing.

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sew.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

Turn! Turn! Turn! lyrics © T.R.O. INC.


My reason for choosing these lyrics today are not to analyze verse by verse the poetic form of the lyrics or to analyze the song as a whole, but to share with you my thoughts about the lyrics and how they pertain to gratitude, thanks, and/or thanksgiving and peace. After all, I am a child of the 60’s.

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, verses 1-8 speak of a time and place for everything: laughter and sorrow, healing and killing, war and peace, and so on. The lines are open to both literal and figurative interpretations, but as a song they are commonly performed as a plea for world peace, with an emphasis on the closing line: “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” This line and the title phrase “Turn! Turn! Turn!” are the only parts of the lyric written by Seeger himself. The song is also notable because it is one of the few times in popular music when a large part of scripture was set to music.

So what does this song have to do with gratitude? Well, the answer is clear if you have followed these posts for the last 30 days, I have chosen quotes that reflect gratitude is for ALL THINGS. Living life involves accepting life on life’s terms, good and bad, happy and sad, encouragement and discouragement, excitement of birth and grief of death… I can go on, but you probably have the point. Gratitude must live within our inner soul, our spirit as we encounter life on its terms.

Today is an ending of the challenge about the attitude of gratitude, 30 days ago was the beginning. I hope that during this last 30 days, you have begun a new habit of living and expressing gratitude for all things. As for the next 30 day challenge, I am still deciding which of two choices that I have made. I plan to pray about the two choices and decide tomorrow.

Gratitude List…

My gratitude list of  5 things I am grateful for:

  1. My followers and readers and your faithfulness in reading my blog posts.
  2. My communication through quotes, images and writing.
  3. My passion for this blog.
  4. The caring and reassurance that I receive from commenters on the blog
  5. Life with all of its changes.

I pray that you continue to visit and follow during the next 30 Day Challenge.