This previously homeless peer advocate keeps a website of resources for local members of his New Jersey community who are experiencing problems with mental health, addiction, low income and homelessness. By making sure his community members know where to go for resources, Paul Nickels is fighting the stigma and distorted perceptions around mental health, homelessness, and addiction. Click the title for the full article on his project from TapInto.net or visit https://hrgmediaorg.wordpress.com/ to see it in action.
Read along as Katie Horneshaw confronts an Australian media outlet’s portrayal of heroin addiction and challenges some of the distorted perceptions around addiction. This article may be rooted in Australia, but it’s message of empathy is inspiring no matter where in the world you’re located.
“Stigma toward injecting drug users is normalised to the extent that we view them as inherently unworthy of sympathy. But if we try to set aside that attitude for a moment, we can see the images in the Herald Sun for what they really are: a glaring example of just how badly we are failing in the areas of addiction, mental health and homelessness.”
This article takes a look at how common distorted perceptions around addiction have evolved into “three basic schools of thought on alcoholics and homeless shelters” centered around the idea of “wet “ or “dry” shelters (whether or not participants are allowed to seek shelter while intoxicated). The article also touches on harm reduction, housing first, and sample goals/ viewpoints from organizations providing each. A great introduction to the conversation around treating homelessness and addiction! Click the title for the full article from The Fix.
After working with a local network of current and former drug users, 18 year old Max Kerr realized that he had many distorted perceptions towards homelessness and addiction. “When I came to my first meeting I kind of just kept to myself, and I was really nervous. I didn’t entirely want to shake people’s hands because all the perceptions I had were: homeless people are grimy, they’re dirty. And anyone I told about this, they said ‘Well, be careful that they don’t try to manipulate you into giving them money or drugs or something,’” he said. “As soon as I met them, I knew that my perception of them was wrong. I think a lot of people probably know that, too, but they don’t listen to that thought,” he said. Are you seeing clearly? Refocus and look again. Click the title for the entire story from The Abbotsford News.
This past August, a public mural highlighting mental illness and homelessness titled, Pieces to Peace was installed in Toledo, Ohio. Community members from all walks of life worked together over two months to create the 20-by-20-foot glass mosaic mural depicting “a homeless person with mental issues crouched in a structure with light coming through a window. Below the person is a set of eyes.” “The message of the mural is about reducing the stigma of mental health disease and homelessness. Everyone we stopped to talk to [about the project] along the way said, ‘I have an aunt, an uncle, a parent, a cousin [with mental health issues]. It’s a universal disease that we don’t talk about. [Discussion] is the goal of the mural, and we believe this visual is going to do that.” Click the title to access the entire article and photos of the mural from The Blade.
“If you’re living in a shelter you’re looked upon as someone who doesn’t care or have a purpose in life, which isn’t the case. It takes time dealing with the stigma that comes from misconceptions such as: “You’re uneducated.” “You won’t work.” “You’re just plain worthless.” Society turns the other way because they believe you are these things, before even giving you a chance.”
This first-person account explores the stigma, social implications, and obstacles for receiving help as a homeless person. “We need to look at the various stigmas or labels we put on people who are homeless and stand up and be accountable for the way we treat them. We need to learn to give trust. Don’t be blinded by the stigmas that are put upon them.” Are you seeing clearly? Refocus and look again. Click the title for the full article from HomelessHub.
”The stigma of drug use here is so strong, mothers ask Campanella if she can spare a dose of Narcan in case they need it to save their children. They'd rather not be seen in line at the pharmacy, they tell her.”
What distorted perceptions exist around addiction, treatment, and the overdose reversal drug Narcan? This article from EMS1 serves as a great introduction to the internal and external stigmas that can deter individuals, families, and entire communities from embracing treatment and recovery from addiction. Click the title for the full article from EMS1.com.
“Priya Mammen, an emergency room doctor at Methodist, said she often has a hard time convincing her patients to seek help outside the community. ‘Sometimes they don't even want to go up to our Center City campus,’ she said. ‘Prevention Point is a phenomenal resource that I would love to link any number of people to. But they're like, 'That's Kensington. I don't go there. I'm not that person.' The stigma goes in all directions.’”
This article from TakePart at Participant Media is challenging the distorted perceptions around addiction and homelessness by exploring the reasons why homeless people begin using drugs and alcohol and the barriers that keep them from treatment and long-term recovery. “Substance abuse is the leading cause of death in the homeless community, and almost half of people living on the streets suffer from chronic substance addiction… There’s really not a whole lot of anything that’s successful for the homeless to get their addictions taken care of. Even when there is a program they can get to, to get clean and sober, as soon as they’re done they’re right back on the street where the drugs and dealers are.” They also highlight the 2016 LIVES Challenge, a video-based anti-stigma project hosted by Recovery Brands. Click the title for the full article from TakePart.
“After being homeless for a period of time, a homeless person gains a mental illness, if nothing else the depression or anxiety that goes with it... we stay exhausted physically because we’re exhausted psychologically and mentally.” Three Redding residents who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness shed light on the connection between mental wellness and stable housing. Watch this short, 8 minute video to learn more about their stories.
In this TEDtalk, Rex Hohlbein gives some insight into the experience of being homeless. Rex is creator of Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit Seattle, Washington. The video is about 17 minutes long, but every minute is worth the watch! “‘When you live outside, it may appear that you are mingling with everyone else. But in fact you are not, you are separated out behind a giant Plexiglas divider, and the only people that you get to talk with are those who are also living non-normal lives behind the Plexiglas.’ And then it occurred to me- When we walk past someone who is suffering on the street without acknowledging them we are creating our own Plexiglas.”