At the last meeting of AMEND, Dr. Jyothi was invited as the chief guest and she spoke about mental illness. Dr. Jyothi is a professor at NIMHANS.
She highlighted the complexities of self-stigma and how a person has to first come out of that state to be able to heal. If the person is unable to accept the situation themselves, family members or the society in general will be one to think about inclusion. Persons living with mental illness must make every effort to divert their minds and busy themselves in other activities.
On the family front, these persons may face a different kind of stigma; for eg., in any decision-making, the family members may not count their opinions at all. They may usually draw a line and back them into a corner saying that they are mentally ill. They may not encourage them to participate.
The most common imagery of mental illness involves showing people shouting, screaming at people, biting and doing other sorts of seemingly unstable things. But this depiction is very damaging. We need to encourage these persons to participate in all activities and lay importance on what they say or feel. The society also has put up barriers against mental illness by avoiding the families with mentally ill members in all situations, refusing from visiting them, refusing to get married to a person in that family, providing a house to these families on rent, and the list is endless.
Dr. Jyothi stated that it is everyone’s responsibility to create space for people with mental illness. Medication for mental illness is being consumed by millions of people around the world and these persons should be able to share their stories with others. Everyone’s role is important in tackling mental illness and in spreading positive messages about mental illness. Only then can we expect social change.
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