For some time now, I’ve believed and advocated a certain position on mental health stigma: it kills people.
Lots of people, actually.
In America alone, over 40,000 Americans kill themselves each year.
All symptoms, all experiences, all decisions happen in a social context.
Context steers people. It encourages some choices, discourages others. Most people respond.
Stigma produces shame, isolation, and secrecy.
When people desperately need help and support, when they are on the cusp of death, stigma adds shame, isolation, and secrecy to the mix.
Do the math: often the product of this equation is death, preventable, if only the context were rather less hostile.
I work with people often who would be dead if left to their own devices. They managed, against all odds in our hostile and ignorant culture, to find help, support, safety. They lived, and they got better in time. The success rate is rather high, IF THEY SURVIVE. If not, they’re finished of course. Forever.
Stigma steers people away from survival , from all the factors that provide it.
Stigma kills. Every day, until we eliminate this lethal context.
Check out the post that set off this post: