Tessa Torgeson shares her personal experience as a member of the LGBT+ community who is also in recovery from addiction. “For myself, the intersections of addiction and LGBT identity are so complex… We weren't given the social or political power to have public space. So, bars and underground clubs were our space... so addiction can sometimes become a learned behavior. For me, it was alcohol. I used it to suppress my identity.”
This Distorted Perceptions original article explores the intersection of ageism and behavioral health stigmas, and the “double challenges” that can result for older adults with behavioral health conditions. In summary, both stigmas are alive and well, and although positive cultural changes are beginning to occur we must “address the stigma of being an older person in a culture that under-values aging, as well as the stigma of being someone with a behavioral health challenge in a culture that views those challenges with fear and contempt.”
“Before the 60s, Ionia doctors viewed schizophrenia as an illness that afflicted nonviolent, white, petty criminals, including the hospital's considerable population of women from rural Michigan… By the mid- to late-1960s, however, schizophrenia was a diagnosis disproportionately applied to the hospital's growing population of African American men from urban Detroit. Perhaps the most shocking evidence I uncovered was that hospital charts "diagnosed" these men in part because of their symptoms, but also because of their connections to the civil rights movement.” Click the title for the entire article by Psychology Today.
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 Distorted Perceptions original article explores the history of stigma towards suicide, the connection between them today, and the far-reaching consequences it can cause for everyone involved.
Gina Dimitropoulos’s paper for Canada’s National Eating Disorder Information Centre highlights some great information on the distorted perceptions held in public and professional spheres, the consequences that these negative attitudes can have for individuals experiencing eating disorders, and tips for challenging internalized stigma and stigma in the public, professional, and family roles.
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.
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.”
Celebrity endorsements help bring the stigma conversation to the table, but do they really impact the “nearly one in five U.S. adults” who live with mental illness and addiction every day?