When recovery modalities like the 12 Steps first took root here in America, the social stigma of addiction was significant. The founders of Alcoholic Anonymous understood the value of anonymity for a program such as theirs; who would want to take part if it meant branding yourself with an “A” for Alcoholism? Naturally, people worried what might transpire if their employer found out that they have struggled with alcohol, let alone mental illness. So, as many of our readers know, people rarely share their last name in meetings of recovery still to this day.
In the United States, Americans have come a long way since 1935 regarding the stigma of addiction and mental health disorders as a whole. Science gives the general public a far more precise understanding of what it means to live with mental illness; and, there is ample evidence that supports compassion and treatment versus ridicule and punishment for those with depression, addiction, or both. However, as the saying goes, we would be wise to not rest on our laurels; millions of people are still hesitant to say that they have a problem aloud and seek assistance. Millions more people still maintain accurate ideas about mental illness. Simply put, the effort to fight social stigma continues!
Sharing Your Story, Helping Others, and Curing Stigma
Mental Health Month is underway; it is a national observance led by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America. The former calls upon Americans to take some time this month to evaluate their perceptions about mental health disorder, take the #CureStigma Quiz, and do what you can to encourage those struggling with psychological disorders to seek help. The latter, on the other hand, is focusing on fitness #4Mind4Body; the organization provides valuable resources about what we as individuals can do to be fit for our futures.
The above campaigns are of the utmost importance, and hopefully, you will find time to take part. There are other ways in which can help chip away at the stigma against people living with mental illness, such as the #MentalIllnessFeelsLike campaign. Mental Health America asks that people share what is like to live with mental health disorders, reminding individuals that there is power in sharing. Those who would like to take part can find more information here. While #MentalIllnessFeelsLike is a social media campaign, not everyone uses an alias to disguise their identity. We also understand that some people may not be at a point in their recovery or have other valid reasons preventing them from expressing how they manage mental illness; MHA provides a method to share your experience with others anonymously, as well.
If you feel comfortable with sharing, you may affect change in the lives of others! Every time a person resists fear and opens up about mental illness, stigma decreases.
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
If you are suffering from addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by the Sea. We can help you end the cycle of addiction and provide you with the tools and skills necessary for achieving lasting recovery.