Mental illness. The phrase has only recently taken on the weight of its significance, and even more recently have we begun to understand the complexity of the many conditions. It’s become so glaringly obvious that so many of us have or will experience a mental health condition to some degree and in some form in our lifetime.
A dear friend of mine who has worked closely with individuals suffering from mental health conditions, and even has a son who navigated through his own conditions, once said:
“I have learned through my life experiences and my profession that I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some type of mental health condition and physical disability. The difference is only degree. That’s what determines obvious or subtle behavior – degree. What type should be treated, what shouldn’t. What should be marginalized, avoided and shunned, what should be accepted. What is ‘normal’, what isn’t. Stigma is a learned judgment that builds walls and maintains inequality.”
Working on Road to Possible has allowed me to listen to and share a space with some amazing individuals that have experienced and dealt with, or continue to deal with varying mental health conditions. No two stories are the same and no two outcomes are the same. However, it’s the support, understanding and patience of the people around them that allows for the path to healing.
Mental illness is only a stigma as long as we are ignorant to its prevalence.