Let People Talk About Mental Health Even If They’re Wrong

posted in: Depression | 12

Reading a post by Gabe Howard today, that was what I took away. I think he’s actually on to something:

Stop yelling at people. Stop trying to make people feel badly for not understanding our circumstances. Stop being disrespectful, condescending, and angry toward people who don’t know what it’s like to live with mental illness. It isn’t helping our cause and is, in fact, hurting it.

The general population believes that people with mental illness are unstable, erratic, and potentially violent. So when they encounter a person with mental illness who treats them poorly, it reinforces that belief. They don’t see the people we are; they see the angry people we present. And, frankly, no one looks their best when angry.

 

This is true of so many advocates, and not just for mental health. I find it true of many groups who want to advocate for an issue. If someone dares to use the improper terminology, or use a phrase that is considered to be disrespectful of the advocates, they aren’t invited to continue to have a discussion about the issue. They are shamed, shunned, and ostracized, which only serves to remind them that advocates are, in fact, not interested in having open conversations, but only in their own, closed, communities where everyone knows the passwords.

This doesn’t help. Think of it this way, if there were an assumption in popular culture that all lawyers are rude and argumentative, and every time someone made a remark about it, lawyers responded by being rude and arguing, well then, the assumption would seem to be pretty correct, wouldn’t it? What changes the assumption? Actually knowing, interacting and living among lawyers.

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The best way to advocate for mental health is to be around people who otherwise would say that they don’t know anyone who deals with mental health issues. It’s the same for child abuse advocates. The best way to convince someone of the massive amount of childhood abuse that has been occurring over the years, is for them to know actual people who they can identify as survivors of child abuse! (This is also a great way for survivors to recognize that they can heal, by hearing the voices and seeing the lives of people who have overcome childhood abuse!)

The only way we are going to get the open discussions about mental health and child abuse that we want society to have, is to let people in, not by excluding them. How do you grow a movement by only including the people who know everything about it already?

That path only keeps the issue underground, keeping it there is not going to get us where we want to go.

 

12 Responses

  1. Annmarie

    Very good description and oh so true. As in anything else you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar

  2. lynda anne sherlock

    Partly i agree with you but i also don’t agree with you. Each survivor of child abuse and who suffers from mental health are different we all deal with things differently. Each of us have different DNA different ways of thinking and different behaviours. We shouldn’t be judging others on how they heal and how they are going to change their life. We all heal differently some quicker and some longer than others. We shouldn’t put people down because to you, you feel their taken a longer time to heal. Sometimes survivors of abuse are to damage by their past and might never heal and put it away and get on with it. I don’t think that other survivors should make judgements about others. We should all unite for all children in this country and the world to fight CSA and Child Exploitation i personally don’t think that the legalisation is enough to protect are children. As survivors we should unite to fight and make legislation tighter for children to be safeguarded and protected through the law and the police. More laws that protect children going through the courts to prosecute and longer harsher sentences so perpetrators of this type of crime cannot go free but prosecuted on the evidence shown in court. We stand so all children can be children and have a childhood with out fear of abuse exploitation through grooming in gangs through the internet online grooming, through schools and people in high office families and in religion. Children in this country don’t have rights even though their is a children’s rights act as survivors of abuse we should push this through and make sure that organisations like OFSTED and NSPCC and Barnados work for the rights of children work together to protect children side by side united for the common good of all children.

    • Mike McBride

      Lynda, I’m not sure where in this post you are getting this feeling that I think survivors should be judged based on how quickly they heal. If anything, the post argues the opposite, that people should be allowed to have discussions about healing no matter where they are or whether what they say is accurate or not in order to keep them involved in the discussion.

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