Walking Towards a World Without Stigma

by lulumgomes on December 9, 2017 - 12:36am

Throughout the semester, I’ve focused the majority of my work on mental health, more precisely the stigma that is attached to this topic. I decided to target mental health stigma within four different main groups: Health care providers, youth, workplace and media.

For the stigma surrounding health care providers I compared the treatment and resources that are offered to people affected by mental illness in West African and Québec. In West Africa, mental illness is incredibly neglected, since there are so many other competing priorities, consequently there are a shortage in professionals in mental health and the alternative solution, prayer camps and isolation, is not effective.

http://www.newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/flacks-contemporary-issues-newsactivist-fall-2017/locking-people-mental-health-west

Within the youth and workplace community, there are often labels and stereotypes that are used to talk about someone who has a mental health disorder. To target these two groups, I looked into the relationship between academic stress and mental health: the excessive amount of work often makes it very difficult to cope with stress. Because of the stigma attached to mental health, these two groups tend to not speak about the way they’re feeling.

http://www.newsactivist.com/en/articles/flacks-contemporary-issues-newsactivist-fall-2017/academic-stress-and-mental-health-how-are

Finally, I looked at the negative connotation that is often used by the media when talking about mental illness. Journalists tend, less today, to associate mental illness to violent behaviors, which directly has an effect on the way society perceives mental illness, due to the big influence the media has on today’s generation.

http://www.newsactivist.com/en/flacks-contemporary-issues-newsactivist-fall-2017/volunteer-opportunity/want-help-raise-awareness

Everyone can help in ending mental health stigma, it can be as simple as listening to someone talking about their feelings instead of demonizing how they feel. For my volunteering project, I decided to participate and volunteer at the annual Montreal Walks for Mental Health. I really enjoyed my volunteering opportunity, because even if I consider myself as someone who is open-minded regarding mental illness, I still left that walk with a different perspective that I came with. In fact, even if this volunteering opportunity had a more impersonal approached it still made me have more compassion for people with mental illness. Everyone in the walk was very kind, smiling and encouraging, it was nice to be surrounded by people who had different background stories, but had the same view and goal.

For my multimedia part of the project I decided to take some pictures of the Montreal Walks for Mental Health and also include some quotes that I found encouraging for people who are ashamed of their mental illness or have a hard time coping with it.

 

About the author

I moved to Canada when I was nine years old, from Brazil. The differences between these two countries are very prominent, and I think that's one of the reasons why I'm so interested in learning new languages and learning about different cultures.