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Slip of the Sign: Mental Health Stigma Free “Pledges”

mental-illness-sketch-2After watching sort of public service announcement [PSA] coordinated by Deaf Women United about Mental Health Stigma Free Pledge, one of the biggest struggles coming out of the Deaf community is one that received only modest notice: Not enough awareness in understanding mental health stigma and that is something we need to start over and be more responsible about it.

Mental health stigma is one of those needs that can absorb awareness like a sponge without showing any sign of saturation, but the commitment is a significant infusion of education that addresses one of the critical missing links identified by many health advocates: Awareness equals stability—and that is the key ingredient for Deaf people who suffer from mental health stigma to be able to control their illnesses and lead productive lives.

I did not learn the term of “stigma” when I was in college, and learned that it is a disease that is extremely contagious. I had been exposed to it so often that I have become infected with stigma. Since I have depression, it carries to many, a double stain that is the stigma of mental illness—falls under mental health stigma free pledge is a long way to go—especially in Deaf community. Many people in Deaf community need to be aware that the earliest traumas can occur during childhood and that is often the hardest to recognize stigma there. For the last 30 years, as a returned citizen, I had been tormented, discriminated, bullied, and getting death threat, enough failure trying to make me feel worthless.

The most difficult thing is that when I saw the video, I immediately saw someone in there who I am very familiar with; we were in the same circle of Deafhood Monologues. The person was one of two people who voted against the idea that I stay in the cast because of my status as a returned citizen. It is very difficult to deal with stigma when you are “labeled” as a Deaf returned citizen where the stigma have been drinking into my character a dark, jagged emptiness that took my soul away for the last 30 years; Depression in the great stage of stigma is a toxic legacy and I am trying very hard to overcome—again, a friend told me that writing blogs like that does not make me a better person and I immediately realized that. That was a big bang on my head.

I think Deafhood Dialogue is a great way to understand what the mental health stigma free pledges really should be. Deaf citizens are full of ideas that communicate with each other. Deaf returned citizens are full of struggle who are so diversely stigmatized they are not welcome back in the Deaf community. Deaf citizens stop in a regular drop-off spot at places. Deaf returned citizens stop in a stigmatized drop-off spot in the dark corner. Deaf citizens represent diversity. Deaf returned citizens represents segregation. Deaf citizens are where awareness is examined. Deaf returned citizens are where stigma—a diagnostic sign of oppression—is realized. Will an apology fix the solution?

Video link: Mental Health Stigma Free Pledge

#deaf #mentalhealth #depression #stigma #DeafandStigmaFree

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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