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Mental Health Stigma

After reading last week’s letter “Depending on lamps for happiness?”, I was first angered by what was yet another stigma filled representation of mental illness. Yet, more than angered at this letter’s misplaced satire, I was disappointed that our society continues to inappropriately trivialize the struggles that many people face each day. My intention in this response is not to attack the writer but instead explain why his letter is problematic.

Millions of Americans are affected by some form of mental illness, yet less than half seek help. This preventable statistic can be attributed to perpetuating stereotypes such as last week’s letter that continue to present mental health, specifically depression, in a negative light. I applaud our school for installing these light therapy lamps and making more resources available to students who need them in addition to the counseling services already available on campus. I would hope that the rest of our community would work to present a more open atmosphere that lessens shame and opens dialogue for those who are struggling. I appeal to the CSB/SJU community to be mindful of the stigma surrounding depression and take time to educate yourselves on the realities of mental illness. –Staying ignorant won’t change the stigma. Educating yourself will.

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