Stigma is an odd thing. It has always seemed very odd to me that a person you know well, may be friends with you and has interacted with you for many years can suddenly, on learning one key thing about you, suddenly go cold, shun or even stop talking to you. The reason. They discover a fact about you. Despite all the positive friendship one small detail can alter their perception of you despite the evidence of their experience of you. That little gem of information. You have a mental health condition.
I have encountered this on several occasions in my life. It cost me a job once. Ignorance? Fear? Whatever the emotion it generates within an individual it is beyond me that people make a judgement on that one piece of information instead of all the experience they have of you or without making an effort to discover you despite that.
I had thought that with all the good work that has been done in recent years we might actually be turning a corner and that people had more understanding and knowledge of what those words “Mental Health” actually mean. For goodness sake 1 in 4 of us are going to be experiencing it in our lives at some point.
But, it is still there. In the last week my experience has been that on discovering I have Mental Health problems I suddenly seem to have lost the ability to understand complicated words and need talking to a bit slower and also with some kind of sympathetic tone. Being excluded from a discussion while being sat there while other people with me were talked to. Hello. I may have a touch of paranoia here but what?
It’s a damn shame that we have to create safe communities where mental health is not an issue but who and what you are is valued. Space2Create is an interesting place for this. To a casual observer there we are a group of people together who have illness to deal with. But there in that group are the very experienced teachers, artists, photographers, data analysts, managers, doctors, social workers, hairdressers, researchers and a whole host of other professions. The common theme is they have had some kind of illness. It does not stop them being those things.
Space2Create values that diversity and taps into it. We encourage people to use their skills to the mutual benefit of everyone. To the group, the organisation and ultimately to themselves on a road to recovery to give themselves the confidence to use those skills. What none of us need are people who only see the health condition label. Our illness does not define us. Open your eyes and see potential not barriers and help those people who are struggling to be able to work and live free from some damn stupid stigma by a selfish few.
The lovely artwork created by our community this week: