As a young child, I remember being terrified by what I thought was a secret illness.
But I never really got to the bottom of it.
Years later, when I discovered my illness, I began to understand how people struggle with mental illness and how much work there is to be done to better understand mental illness.
I am a mental health professional, but I do not do everything for the sake of it, and I have no problem with people being able to have a healthy relationship with their mental health.
I think it is a valuable, positive and important practice that should not be overlooked.
Mental illness stigma in America can be traced back to two different eras.
In the early 1900s, when the country was still a very rural and small town, people struggled to identify and treat mental illnesses.
In the 1930s, a major depression caused many people to abandon work and families and became a “dead end” for many.
These people, like me, were not diagnosed until well into their 20s, so we could not get help until they did.
As a result, many people in my generation were forced to take their lives.
These times also brought about the rise of the social worker.
These were the times when people could have a conversation with their doctor, ask for help and receive help.
These are the times of the flu pandemic and other illnesses.
These times also saw a rise in social services and the advent of “mental health clinics,” which became more accessible to the poor.
The stigma was not just in the face of illness, but in the actual diagnosis, treatment and recovery process.
The stigma of being mentally ill, as well as the stigma surrounding people living with mental illnesses, is what is driving the epidemic that has ravaged our country.
It is hard to pinpoint a specific moment in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, but it was during the height of the Great Depression, when there was a significant increase in homelessness and homelessness rates.
People living on the streets were often vulnerable to the vagrants, the homeless, the alcoholics and the mentally ill.
People on the street could easily fall victim to mental illness if they didn’t have the proper treatment and care, but the stigma of mental illness was present.
People who were on the fringe were also stigmatized, because the stigma attached to mental illnesses was very much a part of our society.
Over time, I have come to see mental illness as a social issue, not a medical issue.
I do believe that mental illness is a human right, and the stigma that is attached to people living in homelessness is not only detrimental to people who are struggling to survive, it is harmful to society as a whole.
I also believe that stigma is not limited to the homeless.
One of the most insidious forms of stigma, however, is the stigma associated with people who identify as mentally ill or who have mental illnesses that are not covered under their insurance plans.
Many people believe that being diagnosed with mental health conditions is a “publicity stunt” that they can take advantage of to get a good job, make good money or to make their life better.
This is a misconception, of course.
The public perception of mental health has shifted, and today, the stigma is much more negative than it was back then.
But it is important to note that stigma still exists, and there are still people who do not feel comfortable talking about their mental illness with anyone.
I have had to work hard to get people to talk to me and listen to my stories.
And, of all the ways I have struggled to get through this process, I hope that my story will help others who are suffering with mental disorders and their families.
We need to acknowledge that mental health is a personal choice.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental illness or is seeking help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.