Carter is writing about mental health in Canada, but I think this really applies everywhere. When we talk about Mental Health Awareness, there’s a lot of focus on people struggling with Anxiety and Depression to seek help, and let them know they aren’t alone. That’s important, but it’s just part of the story:
For mental health advocacy to move from awareness to action, we need to listen to the most stigmatized and marginalized voices and take their lead.
Look, there’s still stigma against going to therapy, or even taking a mental health day from work to take care of yourself. Not as much as there used to be, but it’s still there and still needs to be fought. But, that is only part of the mental health reality. There are still the voices not being heard, and that’s why we also need to talk about the people struggling with serious mental health crisis and wind up homeless, or in prison. It’s way, way too easy to stigmatize those folks, they don’t have the same kind of struggles that are as common, or likely to be seen in our own circles. Let’s face it, people who commit crimes are pretty much written off by “polite society”, we don’t like to give them a second thought, let alone consider the possibility that they might have a story to tell about the mental health system and stigma.
They do though, and if we truly want to eliminate stigma, and get people the treatment they need, we do need to hear those stories too.