Stop the Stigma: Why it's important to talk about Mental Health | Heather Sarkis | TEDxGainesville

Stop the Stigma: Why it's important to talk about Mental Health | Heather Sarkis | TEDxGainesville

consider that statistically speaking you are one of those people that you just shook hands with will likely experience a mental illness at some point in your lifetime forty three point eight million adults experience mental illness every year that's a high prevalence of mental illness yet why is it something we're still afraid to talk about in October everything is pink for breast cancer in November men grow out all their facial hair for prostate cancer it's a great excuse for this guy not to shave we go to galas we go to golf tournaments we go to five case we go to fundraisers and more for heart disease cancer and many other illnesses and while all of these are important we often forget or don't realize that mental illness is among the number one cause of disability in our country costing nearly two hundred billion dollars in lost wages annually depression number one cause of disability worldwide suicide rates continue to climb among adults adolescents and even children every year we see the loss of celebrities and prominent figures to suicide the opioid crisis continues to devastate our communities costing over 100 billion dollars annually yet we're still not courageous enough to talk about mental illness why think back to shaking your neighbours hand think about some of the first thoughts that came to mind great dress cool shirt ah hope there isn't any more audience participation now how did your thoughts change when I mentioned that one of you may experience a mental illness even for the most open-minded judgement is a natural part of our human condition however when that judge escalate to discrimination prejudice even hostility it becomes a breeding ground for stigma stigma defined as a market disgrace as a result of stereotypes and misunderstandings in our society mental illness is stigmatized more than any other illness or condition we can see examples of stigma every single day and we might not even realize what stigma looks like read the news turn on the news scroll through social media overhear a conversation on the street or at work you are bound to hear an example of stigma you might not even realize it and those individuals that are stigmatized face barriers and obstacles to getting the help that they need and it creates a bigger burden of untreated mental illness for our society and our healthcare resources now some of this lies in a misunderstanding of psychiatric diagnosis the brain pretty cool but very complicated modern science has still only just begun to understand how this works let alone understanding what happens when there are issues with the brain functioning there are many many factors that contribute to the onset of mental illness biological environmental social genetic stress trauma we still don't quite understand the interplay of all of these in our brain unlike back injuries cancer diabetes we can't go get a scan we can't go get an x-ray we can't draw labs to diagnose mental illness we can't see mental illness in the brain therefore we have to rely on subjective reports and observations to get to a diagnosis for many people in our society this discounts the realness of mental illness you can't see it it must not be real right this also leads to a lot of misunderstandings that people witness and with mental illness can control it or snap out of it or those people who can't are weak or lazy or stupid or have other personality flaws we would never have these expectations of somebody with a broken leg or cancer now other stereotypes begin to form because of these misunderstandings the main one is fear we have become we have seen mental illness become synonymous with danger violence instability and aggression this isn't what mental illness really looks like yet this is the picture that's painted over and over again news media sensationalizes violent events often portraying those suspects as mentally ill homicidal maniacs movies television social media even video games all follow in line with these fearful representations of mental illness how many movie villains have mental illness think about it this leads our society to label and seek separation from individuals with mental illness causing them to feel stunned isolated fuelling their own self stigma and shame about their condition so we also see this lead to issues with employment opportunities housing options and even relationships and if these personal things aren't enough we can see these these false beliefs penetrate our legislature we can see policies come out that further barriers in place for people in need of help now we also can see this happen in our health care system many medical providers and health care professionals have these same false beliefs and these can carry over into the care that they provide patients with mental illness so those patients might not get the diagnostic testing or the interventions or those referrals that they might need because sometimes those medical providers think the symptoms are all in their head and on a larger scale sometimes we can see this stigma in the way that insurance companies cover or don't cover mental healthcare or psychiatric interventions with barriers like that it's no wonder that more than half of the adults that have mental illness never seek the treatment or care that they need now here's the thing mental health care works for every dollar that's invested in treating depression or anxiety we can see a yield of four dollars in health outcomes and ability to work that's a pretty good investment I don't do finances but I probably would want my four okay to look like that and people that do seek treatment for mental illness have good outcomes they get good symptom management we can even see remission you may not even realize how many successful people in our society have or continue to battle mental illness no there is a simple solution to this to breaking the cycle of stigma at least the first step if we as a community can talk about mental illness in a respectful and real way we can start to break that cycle education about what mental illness is and what it isn't can challenge people's misconceptions and stereotypes it can also begin to change people's misunderstandings on a personal level we can put aside our own prejudice and our own false beliefs and simply show empathy to those people and families that are dealing with mental illness it doesn't take much now if we as as a community as a society as individuals can start to see people with mental illness as people rather than their diagnosis we can take that first step to breaking that cycle and we will also start to see that people with mental illness aren't any different than you and I the first step is having that courageous conversation so isn't it time we stopped the stigma it may just start with a handshake thank you [Applause]

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1 thought on “Stop the Stigma: Why it's important to talk about Mental Health | Heather Sarkis | TEDxGainesville

  1. I thought your speech would be a good one cause mostly people who talk about mental health are themselves mentally wise enough to speak on that topic but you. You ruined your impression the moment you said that "It's a great excuse for this guy not to shave" He has the right to grow his fascial hair it's his body not yours and you don't hold any right to judge someone based on their looks you clearly have a mental illness problem

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