Shame Graffitti

Link – Cursed Madmen: Mental Disorders and Mental Health Stigma in Africa

We would use different words in the US or other Western countries, but the end result might be the same:

In many communities, the topic of mental health is discussed in hushed tones. It is not uncommon that a victim is seen as cursed or possessed by demons. For instance, Sibutso, a resident of Soweto in South Africa recalls in pain how his father woke up one morning and stripped naked. His family was alarmed and rushed him to a psychiatric clinic. It was discovered he was suffering from depression and was immediately put on therapy. Upon returning home, they realized their friends and neighbors were avoiding them like the plague.

Word had quickly spread that his family had been bewitched. Any association with them meant you would catch the curse. And just like that, Sibutso started seeing the people he had known and worked with quickly turn into the other direction whenever they saw him approaching. His story is not isolated. It can not only be replicated in other African countries and reaches as far as India.

Like I said, we wouldn’t say they were bewitched, we’d talk about genetics, or domestic abuse, or unhealthy behavior. In the end though, we’d avoid that whole family too.

That’s stigma, and it’s wrong.

Cursed Madmen: Mental Disorders and Mental Health Stigma in Africa

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