Tell Them What You Think About Mental Health Stigma

I wish I had this much passion for exercise (I’m working on that) but I definitely have passion for this topic. I feel very driven to work hard to share this message with you and, as a result of our efforts, get a response from NBC. I’ve written about the Waunakee, WI High School Dance Team debacle and NBC’s post about it here on WEGO Health and you can read other posts where bloggers like Chrisa Hickey (read this post by Chrisa that lists and links to other posts on the topic) are working hard to put a stop to the stigma, too.

People are commenting on the NBC post, You crazy! Mental Health Advocates in Uproar Over High School Dance Team’s ‘Psych Ward’ Routine, but not enough people. We need to really get the attention of the staff at NBC. We need to let them know how we feel. There’s no need to be nasty, but we can demand decency and respect for those who struggle with mental health issues. We can demand an apology.

You may wonder why I am so insistent on an apology or why I am so persistent about this issue. You may or may not know that I personally have been in an inpatient treatment center, a “psych ward”, for mental health challenges. I have seen what it is like first hand. I have experienced it twice, first hand. I wish for no one to feel the shame and sadness that can result in getting help, like I have, first hand. When wounds from our past, biology, or trauma bring us to a point where we need help, there should be no embarrassment. It should be just as easily understood when we need to see a therapist or psychologist as it is when one needs to see a physician for a physical, or a cardiologist for a heart condition, or an orthopedist for a broken bone.

Stirring up images of zombie like monsters with straight-jackets and the words “psych ward” plastered across the chest of teenage girls doesn’t do anyone any good, even worse, it saddens people, it hurts them. It creates a sense of unworthiness in those with mental health conditions and it creates a sense of shame. Saying it’s okay to do that, as the NBC blog post does, only makes matter worse.

I again ask you to share your voice, rise up and stand for those who need our representation. Please let NBC know that this is not okay by leaving a comment on their blog post. And even better, come back and let me know here that you did it. It will sure give me a warm fuzzy feeling to know how many have stood up for the end of stigma!

6 thoughts on “Tell Them What You Think About Mental Health Stigma

  1. My mother was class president and Valedvictorian. At the age of 50 she took her life. I know first hand of the agony and demons she lived with-ones that came from early childhood when her mother died from the 1918 flu pandemic and she was abandoned by her father. There were so many losses. Illness is no different than having the flu or appendicitis. If one has to go to the doctor or have surgery, we don’t suggest that they not do this. We advocate they get the right medicine to end the ailment. This is what we need to do for emotional illness. We must learn compassion and work to educate the ignorant to understand and offer encouragement and support.

    • Barb,

      I appreciate your heartfelt comments and perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here… I am sorry for the loss of your mother to suicide, so very sorry. I have been in her shoes, as I tried to take my own life, and I assure you it was only in an effort to escape the pain, certainly not meant to hurt anyone else, although that is exactly what happens when one is lost to suicide.

      “We advocate they get the right medicine to end the ailment.” Exactly. Your comments really touch my heart as I feel your sentiment and compassion. Thank you so much for commenting here. ❤


  2. below is a copy of the comment i left on this post. thank you for sharing this story.

    “our intent had nothing to do with mental illness” is the equivalent of someone punching you and denying their intent was to hurt. ridiculous that an adult in an authoritative position could rationalize that. and you, for questioning the sanity of those of us offended by this? ludicrous, as is the excuse that “hey, another school made fun of prisoners, nanananabooboo”. in this climate socially, where more children than ever are taking their own lives and the lives of others, we as adults have the responsibility to teach children tolerance, which is not something you get to pick and choose based on whether it directly offends or affects you.

  3. Amy, we can’t give up! I talked to Principal Kersten yesterday, and it sounds as if he is really working towards a comprehensive educational program and staff development at Waunakee High School. He had an interesting comment – I’m not even sure he realizes he said it. He said, “if we’d thought about it….” and in those five words, he encapsulated the problem.

    Keep hammering NBC – I know I will!


    • Thank you Chrisa! That is awesome news! (What telling words, too) I will keep posting and sharing and keep working to get NBC to realize that they play a part in this, too! I am so happy to be on the same “team” as amazing advocates/activists as yourself.

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