It's surreal to think how this time last year I was suffering in silence.
There has been so much change.
This past year gifted me with a true understanding of empathy. It constantly surrounds me in each individual who makes up my support system. While some may never truly understand how it feels to live inside my head, their ability to empathize and consistently challenge themselves to understand my illness is heartwarming. As Dexter J. Nyuurnibe put it, each and everyone of them allows me “...to know that I can, I can, actually, be myself, to be open, to not have to hide myself like I did for so long... it allows me to live.”
Some days, their positivity clouds my ability to effectively evaluate the stigma that exists within our society. This is because I am so fortunate to constantly be surrounded by individuals who push me to exceed and grow, never viewing me any differently because of my diagnosis.
The stigma still remains.
Over the past five years, I have been confronted by it at work, at my university, and even my own doctors office. Sometimes the harsh reality of how unchanged things are sets in as I find a person unknowingly stigmatizing me. It’s not because they intended to do so, but rather they didn’t even realize they were in the first place.
Education is were we need to start.
Helping others understand what it means to live with a mental illness and reminding them that everyone has mental health. While awareness and open communication is the first step, we must follow this by taking action. We must now address the need for adequate mental health services and treatment. Moving forward, mental health care needs to focus on education and implementation of resources.
As we continue to breakdown the stigma, we must now address the need for adequate mental health services and treatment. Moving forward, the future of mental health needs to focus on both education and implementation of resources.
How can you start?
Talk to your employer about how they can improve mental health at work. Or ask your MP about what they are doing to ensure more services are available in your community. Or volunteer for a local organization!