Sunday, February 27, 2011

Danger of a Single Story

A few weeks ago, Bring Change 2 Mind blogger Marc Peters posted a video from TED talks by Chimamanda Adichie. I wanted to share this video and more importantly the message the video presents to our readers. Chimamanda Adichia is a novelist and MacArthur Fellow. Her work is inspired by events in her native Nigeria. In the TED talk Chimamanda discusses the danger of the single story. Her discussion of the single story relates very closely to the experiences of the mentally ill. Chimamanda’s messages is that a single story about a person or culture creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is NOT that they are untrue but that they are incomplete and make one story the ONLY story. A single story shows a group of people as only one thing over and over again and that in turn is what they become. We risk a critical misunderstanding when we only hear a single story about a person or a culture.
So when we only have a single story about mental illness that is what the mentally ill become. If we only know mental illness as violence than every mentally ill individual is perceived as violent. This in turn leads to more stigma associated with mental illness. This is why we also must share our stories about mental illness. Please share your story on our blog. Or if you don’t feel comfortable sharing on the blog then email Becca and I at Keep Reading. Keep Learning. Keep Advocating.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Talk Therapy

Jacob Berelowitz  a graduate of NYU Master of Social Work and created a TV network called Talk Therapy Television.  “Talk Therapy Television was created to disseminate information about mental illness and its treatment options to the public through media and thereby promote the treatment of mental illness.”  Talk therapy television is working to promote the treatment of mental illness.  Everyone at Supporting Our Siblings, Becca, readers, our followers, and myself are all working towards decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness and educating the public about mental illness.  Talk Therapy Television is just one example of an amazing effort being made to enhance the lives of those suffering form a mental illness.
Talk Therapy Television is not the only thing Berelowitz has created.  He also came up with the idea to put mental health facts on the back of grocery receipts, a Mental Health Quick Facts Campaign.  This idea then emerged into a Quick Facts website.  The facts about mental illness are now on receipts in major grocery stores in New York City.  “An average of 25,000 shoppers every day are handed receipts with Quick Facts printed on them.”
The New York Daily News then wrote an article about the quick facts campaign.  The online article has a pole that asks individuals if people are undereducated on mental health issues.  So go online and VOTE!
Berelowitz came up with the idea about Quick Facts campaign while shopping at the grocery store.  He is an example and inspiration to both Becca and me.  He shows us that if you have an idea don’t hesitate to act on that idea.  Thank you all for following our blog.  This blog started with an idea.  And our ideas continue to grow and we both hope some day to have careers and working with the mentally ill daily.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Camouflaged or Not, There's No Hiding

Hi readers, it's Becca. I'm ashamed to even admit how long it has been since I have written a post. Unfortunately work has been keeping me busy and exhausted - sigh - albeit still not good enough reasons to keep from keeping up with SOS!

I am back and I have an interesting article to share with you! My good friend Leslie gave me the most wonderful Christmas gift this year, a subscription to New York Magazine! I have anxiously been awaiting my weekly magazines to show up and three weeks ago I received my first one. NY Mag turns over some fabulous material, no doubt about that. In my most recent issue there was a particular story that struck me titled "Soldiers."

The article gives a quick review of the mental health system as it applies to our military troops. This is something I'm fairly educated on given my Mom works in the mental health system as a contractor for the government. One thing she has addressed, and the article does as well, is the stigma that still exists in their community. (That of course, is not to say that a stigma does not still exist in a greater community.) I suppose I am more astonished that it exists in the military community given the degree of trauma these folks are put through that may be deployed, may have a deployed family member or may even be coping with issues at a base here in the US. We've been in battle for ten years. Ten. Years. Granted, we see a lot of coverage on our nightly news segments, those of us that have not been to the Middle East during this turmoil can not begin to imagine what these brave men and women go through.

With this said, I want to share with you this passage from the article: The author of the article speaks to a five-star general named Chiarelli. Chiarelli recalls, "When I was growing up in the Army, if anyone wanted to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist they'd have to go to the fifth floor. So nobody wanted to go to in the elevator and press five. So now we have behavioral-health people in the primary-care clinics. You don't have to go to the fifth floor. But I know the stigma's still there." When I read this passage, I thought to myself, "Really? You just got home from war - from seeing things that other couldn't dream of and you're worried you might need something for anxiety?" Obviously, I could never understand but that doesn't mean it didn't make me feel for every soldier that has had to address a mental health issue in such an environment.

What DOES happen when a soldier comes home to return to "normal" life and attempts to deal with anxiety, depression or PTSD? Well, the article sites the "normal" life of a 24 year old in the Army. A footnote on a page in the Army's suicide report describes the following, "At 24 years of age, a Soldier, on average, has moved from home, family and friends ad resided in two other states; has traveled the world (deployed); been promoted four times; bought a car and wrecked it; married and had children; has had relationship and financial problems; seen death; is responsible for dozens of Soldiers; maintains millions of dollars' worth of equipment; and gets paid less than $40,000 a year." I'll be honest, just reading that gave me anxiety.

The article goes on to share statistics about the increased number of suicides, the use of anti-depressants and other mood altering drugs and the different types of treatment options available. It was important for me to share this story with you all because it continues to show that no one is immune to mental health issues. It is also important to note that even while troops are being pulled from the Middle East and front-line battle is fewer and further between, there are still many, many suffering from war. I encourage you to donate to mental health research in hopes that we can find the right balance of therapy, medicines and care that will serve the troops just as they have served our country.

Glad to be back and writing! As always, comments, notes and post ideas are always welcomed! Visit to read the whole story!