Dear People Who Stereotype others with Mental Health Concerns,

We are writing to you because your misinformation and ignorance about mental health hurts other people. We ask for you to not make jokes about people with mental health because that  affects them in harmful ways. For example, many of you believe that people with mental illnesses are violent, incompetent and comical. Some mental disorders like antisocial personality disorder and an acute stage of some psychotic disorders do have aggression and violence as possible symptoms, however recent research has shown that using alcohol and drugs is a more reliable predictor of violent behavior than is mental disorder.

People with mental illnesses are not incompetent and not child like. There are things that they struggle with and that get in their way. Sometimes they don’t know what to do. This becomes part of their life and this follows them towards the future and sometimes this causes distraction and makes it hard to keep on task.

I have a mental health concern, and having and living with it is not fun. It is hard to deal with and is also stressful. The way you see and talk about it Is not true with people who have mental illness in their own eyes. Maybe some of you think that you were not trying to be be mean or disrespectful it’s okay because it might be a misunderstanding. You are our target even though you think your not doing anything wrong to the community because what you are doing making stereotypes. It doesn’t look like it hurts anybody but it impacts a huge amount to people with mental health community it hurts them very badly. The thing is when some people joke about mental illness they don’t really think about the experience of someone who has mental illness. They don’t know how people feel, and when they think about the experiences of someone with a mental illness, they might be more understanding. Words have power and some can really hurt and impact communities.ou and other people might see that stereotypes might be playful but seriously and it could lead to higher attempt of suicide. Below in the first graph, there the graph shows us the older a person gets the suicide rates go higher. But for males the suicide rate is higher by 16.3% rather than females ever since 2001. In the second graph it is similar except The rates are a little lower for females.    https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

The issue when it comes to metal health is that it comes with many stereotypes and stigma. A reason in which people make stereotypes is due to misunderstanding, sigma often occurs when people are judgemental. The oppressed group in this case is people who deal with mental health. Some effects of the issue on the community is that they (people who are part of the mental health community) can face the same stigma and/or fear other people can be facing. This will just create more and more people to feel like they are being judged and excluded. I personally think that no one benefits from this inequality because all the oppressor is doing is oppressing the community which just seems like a hateful move. The community is facing internalized, interpersonal, and ideological oppression. Our allies are people who are willing to create a change. Finally, our opponents are the people creating the harm and people who are ok with what’s going on.

Some tactics of social change that people have been using over time are education, and propaganda. These tactics have gotten a lot of attention around stereotypes and how it affects people with mental health issues.How communities and groups have been helping people with mental is we have given people a mental health awareness month which is May, it is here to raise awareness and enlighten people about the importance of mental health and to stop the stigma associated with mental health. Mental health awareness month is also here to educated people on how to make people feel comfortable and how to talk to people with mental issues appropriately and how they are suppose to be friendly and not scare them. One step that we can help people with mental illnesses is to first, is to stop stereotyping people with mental disabilities. This is harmful because if different communities trying to help a oppressed group then we shouldn’t show stigma towards them. Another tactic that communities use is by changing the choice of words that you use towards people with mental disabilities, because you might say something such as, “ Stop acting crazy” and you might not mean it in a harmful way but it can still seem that you are showing stigma. You can do this by rethinking what you might say towards people. So as you can see these are some important skills that you will need to use to make a person with a mental illness feel more comfortable around other people which would be leaving them antisocial.

Our plan this week is to educate the middle schoolers about mental health and stigma. We are going to email and do a presentation in a middle school class.

Please follow us at our Instagram @EndingMHStereotypes to learn more about what we are doing.

Sincerely,

Dustin C. , Leslie D. , Kimberly J.12

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5 Comments
  1. Audrey 1 year ago

    Dustin, Kimberly, and Leslie,

    Thank you for sharing this interesting read. I think that this article was very well organized. I think that since you are writing to people who stereotype mental health disorders, you should be more passive in your approach to telling them to stop. I think that it is so cool that you guys care so much about this topic and I care about it to. I think it could be easier for people to see your way of thinking if you were a bit less emotional about the matter. Thank you for sharing this article it was a very interesting find.

    Sincerely,
    Audrey

  2. alexandra rosas 1 year ago

    Dear Dustin,
    You make a good point on talking about ending mental health stereotypes, there are a lot of people who do not understand that there are many people who are suffering mental health and keep it to themselves. There are so many people in this society who suffer from a mental disease and some of us don’t even know it, there are some who make comments not knowing that the jokes they make may hurt those mentally. You make a good point in which we should support people who have mental health make them feel that they don’t have to be afraid of truly showing their emotions. I believe that more people should be aware of the different mental health that some suffer so they understand that in some situations it is bad to make a comment that is not relevant or that might hurt others. You make a good point by writing this topic and spreading the awareness of this topic and it may help those with mental health to know that they have people who care and stand up for them.

  3. Dustin Voss 1 year ago

    Dear Dustin, Kimberly, and Leslie.

    Dustin! I’m Dustin too! I hope we can be allies!

    You sound right to me when discussing the thoughtlessness with which some people use language and how this perpetuates stereotypes about those in the mental community. I appreciate your integration of data and would even add that suicide attempts are up, particularly for young women (https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/01/health/suicide-poisoning-teens-study/index.html)

    I’m have several questions for you all.
    1. How is social media raising the stakes for the discussion you point out and what solutions or redress of the harmful effects of social media might you (experts as youth posting on YouthVoice) suggest?
    2. Have you considered part of your advocacy to demand public spending on mental health? Here in Chicago we’ve had many mental health facilities close down since the recession of 2008 and I have seen schools like the one I work with absorb that impact.

  4. jraissle 1 year ago

    Dear Dustin, Kimberly and Leslie:

    I want to commend you for speaking out for persons struggling with mental illness. This is an important issue, and one that is just beginning to be discussed openly and honestly. Your points about the stereotypes and stigma related to mental illness are well made. I especially appreciated that you pointed out that “words have power and some can really hurt”. Casual “joking” comments often wound deeply whether this was the intent or not.

    The statistics and graphs you provided are a powerful reminder of rising rates of suicide in our communities. I was curious if, in your research, you uncovered any explanation for why the suicide rate is so much higher for males than females?

    Your decision to develop more awareness of the stereotypes, stigmas and issues facing people with mental illness with middle school students is awesome! These students are not too young to begin learning about the realities of mental illnesses and the consequences of stereotyping. It can be especially hard at that age to avoid peer pressure and “jokes” that target misunderstood populations. I wish you the best in your presentation and would love to hear how your efforts are received. I also hope you continue to work on getting the word out to support the mentally ill even beyond the month of May.

    Thank you for speaking up for the many people who battle mental illnesses every day.

    Sincerely,
    Jane Raissle
    jraissle@assets-school.net

  5. Tristan Butch 1 year ago

    Dear Dustin, Kimberly, and Leslie,

    I really appreciate this post of bringing awareness to the public regarding the stigma that people with mental illnesses face in their daily lives. I got so interested about reading your post after I chanced upon its title. Having close friends who have struggled with bouts of depression and other related mental illnesses, I certainly cannot be silent on how the public stereotypically characterizes mental illnesses. In fact, I myself have experienced horrible episodes of anxiety. Based on my personal experiences and observations, it is true that people who hold stereotypes against mentally-ill people perceive the target group to be “violent, incompetent, comical, risky, psycho etc.”. The reproduction of these discourses within the society can continuously harm the marginalized population of mentally-ill individuals and can create lesser opportunities for them to be given attention to and allow them to be able to speak up and share their unique experiences of their lives. Another important point you emphasized is the prevalence of suicide and its relation to mental illness which should be a concern especially with the rising rates of self-imposed deaths based on the graphs and data you presented. Thank you for being an instrument to spread awareness regarding this matter!

    Best,
    Tristan

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