The Trust launched its Stigma Busting Campaign on 10th October to coincide with World Mental Health Day and the beginning of Time to Change’s national Get Moving Campaign.
Putting the record straight, allaying fears and myth busting - you have probably done it at some time so we want to hear about the time you challenged mental health associated discrimination.
Research tells us that when people with a mental illness are asked to name the greatest obstacle to recovery, stigma and discrimination is the most common response.
The stigma and discrimination felt by people who have a mental illness can take many forms from abuse and harassment to being ignored and shunned, simply because of having a condition that is difficult to talk about.
We want to help change this situation. It might only be by making a simple correction or saying ‘no that’s not the case’ but by doing this it could make someone think twice about their assumptions or prejudice. And hopefully make them change their mind.
Take a look at the examples we have gathered from our staff and members of stigma busting in action. Why not tell us your own stories and support our campaign.
Stigma Busting Stories
I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for years. Every time she asks me what I do, I tell her I work with people with mental health problems. She always says “That must be really scary!” and I always tell her “It’s not scary at all!” I explain that the nature of mental health isn’t that people aren’t out there trying to hurt you, like you might read about in the media. Sure, they have their problems, but they are just normal people”. She does listen and by the end usually says “I suppose that’s right”. I’ve been chipping away for seven years now - I hope that one day it will sink in!”
Manager, Positive Choices – Tipton
Staff helping to organise a weekend theatre break to London contacted a local coach company to discuss arrangements for a group of 30 people. All was going well.
‘What sort of group are you’, asked the voice on the other end of the telephone. ‘Some of the group attend our recovery centre’, was our response. ‘What sort of recovery centre’ was the next question.’ We went to great lengths to explain that it is for people, living in the community, in recovery from mental heath issues. ‘Are these people ok to be on the coach, it is open to the general public you know’, came the response.
‘Our group is no different from the general public you are talking about’, we retorted. Finally we concluded that their narrow minded attitude had lost them our custom.
Jane O’Neill, Principal Psychologist
Wednesbury and West Bromwich CMHT
On two separate occasions recently I have been out in social situations and made general conversation with people. As it does, talk got around to work and I was asked what I did for a living. On both occasions when I said what sort of work I did and moreover where I worked, both people said very similar things. ‘You must come across a lot of frightening and violent people’ said one and ‘oh they can be violent ********’ said the other. Before making my exit I was quick to explain that people with a mental illness are usually more of a risk to themselves than to others and that sadly we see a lot of self harm.
Adult Recovery Services Manager
I was just about to go into my local shop when I heard a voice shout ‘hello nurse’. I looked around and recognised a patient of mine from many years ago. I stopped to pass the time to day with him. He was well and had not been in touch with our services for many years.
When I eventually went into the shop the owner said to me, ‘I saw you talking to that man, he’s mental you know, weren’t you frightened’. I was quick to quash the myth that mentally ill people are dangerous or mad. The owner listened intently as I explained that mental illness can strike at anytime. That 1 in 4 people suffer with some form of mental illness and that the vast majority will recover and get on with their life.
Yvonne Duberry, Social Worker
Wednesbury and West Bromwich CMHT
In church recently I heard, “Beware of that nutter - she could turn at any moment". The person who had made the comment was genuinely afraid. I had to put him right.
I pointed out that his comment was both discriminatory and derogatory. I also explained that illness is the same for everyone in terms of the trauma associated with it, the difference is the part of the body that the illness affects. I was able to highlight this using that cliché "there but for the grace of God go I” and used the analogy of elastic bands – they come in various sizes and thickness but each one is only able to take so much pressure before it breaks.
Realising that comments are often made out of ignorance I asked Dr. Khalil to give a talk to the whole church. It went very well and the people who were sceptical are now more aware and tolerant.
Member of Public
When I was diagnosed as being depressed I couldn’t tell anyone and I refused medication. I was ashamed that I couldn’t cope with life. Things got so bad I finally agreed to the medication. I told no-one but my partner and soon returned to my ‘normal’ self
A few years later I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. My GP explained I would need medication for the rest of my life. After a few more years I was taken off the anti-depressants but within 6 months felt so down that my life was affected again.
The doctor suggested re-starting the anti-depressants. I expressed my shame at having to take medication but he explained how the chemicals in my brain were not working properly and just as with the thyroid medication, anti-depressant medication would put things back into balance. There was no difference and no need to be embarrassed. I accepted this and now talk about my need for anti-depressants openly.
Share your stigma busting quote