We Need to Break the Mental Illness Stigma

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Mental illness and mental health (wellness) are topics I am very passionate about it. I have the privilege of working in this challenging field, with a specific focus of Suicide Prevention [veteran community] and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple challenges it has introduced, I have dedicated myself to trying to understand how other people view mental illness.

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. Mental illness is common.

Earlier this week, there was a very controversial discussion by Skip Bayless from the FS1 Undisputed show. Here are his comments, along with the link: Fox Sports Rips Skip Bayless for ‘Insensitive’ Dak Prescott Rant

“When it comes to the quarterback of a NFL team, you know this as well as I do or better than I do, it’s the ultimate leadership position in sports, am I right about that?,” Bayless said. “You are commanding an entire NFL franchise, what’s the roster at now, 53 guys? … And they’re all looking to you to be their CEO, to be in charge of the football team. Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him going public with ‘I got depressed, I suffered depression early in COVID, to the point that I couldn’t even go work out.’

“Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s Team, and you know and I know, this sport that you play, it is dog-eat-dog. It is no compassion, no quarter given on the football field. If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spots, and it definitely can encourage others on the other side to come after you. You throw an interception, you’re going to hear ‘You depressed, number four?’ That sort of thing. You get sacked, ‘How’d that feel? You getting down about it?’ You just can’t go public with it, in my humble opinion.”

Here is what I posted on my Twitter account:

Some people agreed with my opinion and contributed to my perspective, while others agreed with Skip Bayless. It was very nice to see other people opening up about their battle with mental illness. That takes courage, ladies and gentlemen.

Sadly, opinions like Skip’s are why people do not choose to come forward with their depression and anxiety. “People will laugh at me!” Life is not a game; football is. [This is coming from a huge sports fan]

Ironically, earlier this week I had posted a poll on Twitter, “41% of people with a mental illness use mental health services in any given year.” We need to raise this number by breaking the stigma of mental illness. If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, please do it.

Challenge:

  1. What percentage would you have guessed if I did not provide any numbers? There are no right or wrong answers.
  2. Are you thoughts on mental illness contributing to the issue or are they helping eliminate the stigma?

Disclaimer: I am not a Mental Health Clinician. Please consult with a professional if you have any mental health concerns or questions.

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