This DP Original article explores the stigmatizing attitudes and behaviors that have historically contributed to the disparities experienced by ethnic/minority populations in the mental health and substance use systems of care.
This piece explores suicide and depression in the Asian American population, identifying suicide “as the ninth leading cause of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the 10th leading cause of all deaths in the U.S.”
“I understand, but I wish that more families would be open about suicide. I say this not only for the public at large, which would benefit from knowing the full truth about suicide. Not only for others who lost a loved one to suicide and who are further stigmatized when suicide is considered so shameful that it must not be named. Not only for those who have attempted or seriously considered suicide, and who are hurt by the notion that what they did is shameful. I say this also for the family itself.”
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.
“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.’”
“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.”
“In our culture, it is easier to judge than to understand. The compounding of stigma against people with mental illness and those who are homeless and have these illnesses is truly a double-whammy.” Believing the distorted perceptions and blaming these individuals for their situation is much too simple. This DP Original article challenges “all of us to banish the stigma of homelessness from the lives of people experiencing it, in conjunction with understanding that, often, mental illness either results from or is a precursor to people losing their homes.”
"A good first step toward successfully supporting a person in recovery is to honestly examine your own beliefs and feelings about addiction, and to make sure that your response to the colleague you are about to welcome back isn’t hampered by any hidden negative attitudes." Are you seeing clearly? Take some time to refocus and look again. Click the “Source” link for the full article from Harvard Health Blog.