Combating STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION
By Howard Diamond
Election Day. Veteran’s Day. Thanksgiving Day.
Each one has its own meaning and significance for all of us.
People similar to that deal with mental illness (health) issues, are being affected more and uniquely, by different days. Also, it occurs mostly every morning when we wake, not just on the three days above. The words STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION make our overall situations exceedingly difficult, especially during certain times of the year. Here in part four of these articles we will focus on assisting us with ways to combat and lessen those dreaded words.
To move forward, is to reflect back at the definitions. STIGMA is when one group of humans act or treat others in a way differently because of specific characteristics. When someone is victimized unfairly because they have mental illness it is then called, DISCRIMINATION. Unfortunately, they are both way too prevalent in our societies and need to be removed entirely.
Before we can eradicate them, we begin with reduction. Harm Reduction, 101 for those in the know. Of course, ideas and strategies need to be developed. Some of them have been tried, but many of us do not know they even exist. Try not get labeled and get the help we need. This in itself is STIGMA often called labeling, whether it be done to us or inflicted by us to others.
Want a hard one, do not believe what they are saying. The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is relevant to our conversation. Indeed, I say it is hard, but we can strive for self-awareness and to help ourselves and assist others. To fight STIGMA, is not to degrade oneself or let someone else define it; therefore, it is utterly wrong.
DISCRIMINATION of people with Mental Health Issues are not the answer. We are folks that are valuable members of a city, a state, a nation, and the world. Many lead productive lives, by working, getting a paycheck, spending on what we need to survive and are responsible for others. Do something about this, write Congress and the President and hold and go to peaceful meetings and discuss equality. Alert the media and spread the word that STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION is still going on. When doing this exercise, I am emphasizing to be careful what vocabulary is used.
Take the time and discuss sports, the weather, or the economy with any one of us because we are intelligent, too. However, due to DISCRIMINATION we are the ones with Mental Health
Issues and not given the same opportunities as mainstream population. In addition, many remain either underemployed or unemployed while getting much less money to work. Plain and simple, THIS IS DISCRIMINATION. Never antagonize anyone and be as peaceful as possible.
My hope is that if we begin to use some of these ideas, we can be in less fear with decreasing anxiety and maybe live together as ONE human race. As it is said and as it is written, “All Men Are Created Equal.” Tough five words to live by, but it has to be accomplished for people everywhere to exist in
harmony. As mentioned over and over again by Mr. Spock in Star Trek, “Live Long and Prosper”. Also, I wrote this in my previous articles on this topic and I will state it again, both terms STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION must be removed from all the dictionaries, eradicated from our collective vocabularies, plus eliminated from our thought processes, once and for all.
Now we hark back to the first line from the beginning of this piece. Citizens with a form of mental illness or a cognitive or emotional impairment are often left out of political involvement. Smells like STIGMA. There are positive alternatives.
Weeks, if not months before Election Day, officials canvas our great nation to find individuals with Mental Health Issues. Their goal is to educate, register and encourage everyone including those with these issues to go through the election process. Ultimately, we are able to vote which is a right of all us. For those in certain areas and cannot travel to voting places, they offer transportation on Election Day, itself.
We turn our attention to reducing and combating STIGMA in Veteran’s Mental Health. Many come back from service duty with a host of mental ailments, but most do not get the assistance they can avail themselves with. This may disproportionately impact military individuals and the many returning veterans. Today, there are more places to assist with their feelings of shame plus inadequacy to better encourage treatment. In large part this can be attributed to STIGMA.
Throughout time, people have had many things to be thankful for and try to set aside petty differences. However, STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION often makes this more difficult for some individuals with Mental Health Issues to combat the idea of being indebted to anyone. Thanksgiving marks the period of time to remember the little things and to be grateful for what we actually have. Although many of us are struggling, we might be able to pick one or two. Whether it be having family or friends, adequate physical and or mental health, or just a place to lay one’s head, there is one item out there. We can win this battle.
Despite STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION, we are appreciative to be alive. Try not give into temptation or greed, as they are the roots of evil. Focus on what gives us pleasure and if all humanly possible try to do more. Hey everyone I try to walk, go for a drive and or write almost every day! It helps me to feel better (yea, physically and emotionally), increase my self-awareness and self-esteem and breaks the STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION in my head. If I can do it, everyone can do it! At least try, one thing.
See you in the News Blogs. Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island
Fall Sports 2020, Not Like it Used To Be
By Howard Diamond
Sports has returned for us to see
In 2020, sports not like it used to be
Focusing on four of them is enough for me
Baseball, basketball, football, and hockey.
Basketball had been played in a bubble
Less likely for COVID19 to cause any trouble
Lakers were in the finals with the Heat
In four games to two the Lakers sent the Heat to defeat.
Hockey was contested in a similar way
There were no more games left to play
Raising the STANLEY CUP was what every team waned to do.
Lightning prevailed against the Stars four games to two.
Baseball had a strange schedule each team played sixty only
Without any games plus playoffs it would have been lonely
Finally it was the Dodgers against the Rays
World Series won four to two by Dodgers and their winning ways.
Football are playing games entering week nine
Halfway through the Steelers are playing mighty fine
Still too early for a favorite to be said
The Super Bowl is still months ahead
When one likes sports, we watched from home and enjoy
When one does not, we read a book or played with a toy.
As we turned our calendars to November
Enjoyed these sports when they converged together.
Howard Diamond, Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island
THANKSGIVING MEAL AND FUN, FOR SOME?
By Howard Diamond
Thanksgiving is here with many people to greet
Thanksgiving is here with plenty of food to eat
Everyone have your pants and belts relatively loose
Of course we are having turkey as main meal not a goose
Turkey is already in the stove
Fruit was picked from the grove
Many vegetables ready to be cooked
Desserts sitting everywhere waiting to be hooked
Feasting is what the holiday is for
Sharing stories of family lore
Together we are here to enjoy this day
We would not have it any other way
Gobble, Gobble, who wants some turkey
Take what you want there is plenty you see
Stuffing and potatoes for all to share
No dieting today, we don’t really care
An assortment of vegetables too many to count
Food on our plates are beginning to mount
Remember to put some gravy on top
Wash it all down with cider, soda, or pop
Leave some room for cakes and pies
Can’t stop eating, no one even tries
Another Thanksgiving meal is done
Too full right now to have much fun
Most of the men go and watch football
Or use their cell phones to make a call
While most of the women do the dishes
Discussing what they desire as holiday wishes
The children are in one of two places
Enjoying the day with their happy faces
They are playing outside around near the trees
Or doing things on laptops, busy as bees
It was nice to spend time with friends
When the day begins, we know later it ends
Football teams have many huddles
Before we leave we have group cuddles
Now I’m starting to wake
What I dreamt was totally fake
Another year spending Thanksgiving alone
Later I will call one or both of my friends on the phone
Maybe it’s the time to start a book
Reading the inside covers is where I look
Deciding on one to be read
Maybe I will begin the book in bed
My meal this day will be a frozen dinner
Either chicken or turkey will be the winner
Spending most of the day on my tablet
Just another day I’ll probably want to forget.
Howard Diamond is a Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island.
SELF-STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION using self-thinking
By Howard Diamond
Have these statements ever been said to any one of us? We are crazy, we are stupid or stop acting like a mental patient. Perhaps, we are told to, “Just get over it”. My notion is that at least one of them have been heard by most of us. However, each person reacts to this quite uniquely. Some laugh this off and think it is funny. Others take these comments as an insult and keep them inside for future use.
For many years, people with mental health issues have experienced some form of “STIGMA and DISCRIMINATION”. When mentioned often enough, individuals begin to believe what is said. Often this is called, “PUBLIC STIGMA” as it represents the stigma, prejudice, and discrimination of a specific group such as mental illness. My focus in this article is on something slightly different, but no less significant.
What happens when we use these negative phrases on ourselves? A couple of examples, I am stupid or I am behaving like a loony. Real confidence or self-esteem cannot be very high. Overall, these words are hurtful mostly to ourselves which can lead to other issues. Many times this is referred to as, “SELF-STIGMA”.
As a Mental Health Peer Specialist, I feel “SELF-STIGMA” is much worse for people that have mental health issues, because it is what we call or label ourselves. “SELF-STIGMA” occurs when we internalize public opinions and attitudes, while suffering mentally from a variety of maladies.
Stereotypes are the way we collect information about others out there. Like the current COVID-19 pandemic, “SELF-STIGMA” and its consequences can and do lead to negative feelings and emotions which many times turns into mental health issues and or social isolation. Additionally, from these bad feelings, people from the public, stay away from someone with mental illness because of fear “SELF-STIGMA” and or belief “DISCRIMINATION” that anyone with these issues are dangerous. What a absolutely horrible way to live.
Furthermore, “SELF-STIGMA” for me was a distorted belief of how people conceived I was. One way was that I was less than others, just because I had a mental illness diagnosis. These people continually discussed me and my given diagnosis, behind my back. Also, individuals saw that I had many types
of behavior differences so a lot of ‘avoidance’ occurred. No, my diagnosis was never Paranoid. Regardless what was said or perceived, the more relevant and significant notion here was, that “SELF-STIGMA” caused a major impact on my self-esteem and my anxiety in the mind of others. Yes, it still influences me sometimes now.
“STIGMA” along with “DISCRIMINATION” are especially significant to “SELF-STIGMA” and more and more are now thought of as a front for treating many forms of mental wellness disorders. This overall effect of “SELF-STIGMA” is to help seeking individuals for anyone, not only to folks that deal with any of the vast assortment of mental health issues. In part four of this series will talk about the ways we already dealt with “STIGMA” or “SELF-STIGMA” and “DISCRIMINATION” and we will begin to reduce or even eliminate the words from our collective thinking plus our vocabularies, forever.
See you in the Newsletters and News Blogs. Howard Diamond is a New York State Certified Peer Specialist from Long Island