Stigmatization is important for mental health, physical health, and many disabling disorders. Hurtful comments and memes can be found all around the Internet, permeating screens across the globe. This is more than a statistic. This means that every day, vulnerable persons are experiencing a negative representation of their illness. While disorders, especially mental and physiological, are the main focus of this campaign, it is not limited. Groups of people have been misrepresented and treated so poorly that stigmatization has had an impact on nearly every human on the planet, even if they may not realize it at a surface level, values can become enshrined in cultures that make minorities feel as though they are less. Women, at risk youth, refugees, particular cultures, LGBTQ, and disabled persons face not only persecution, but also emotional distress.
According to the CMHA, Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds. To put this into respective, that means that 1 out of 24 students in either a high school or college environment may not make it through the “happiest time of their lives”. The reasons for suicide are widespread, nuanced, and simple answers are unlikely to ever exist.
Stigma is real and it has a deep impact on the lives of those it touches. “Understanding The Impact of Stigma on People With Mental Illness”, a peer-reviewed article on stigma, has this to say about the particular challenges of psychiatric disorders.
Although stigmatizing attitudes are not limited to mental illness, the public seems to disapprove persons with psychiatric disabilities significantly more than persons with related conditions such as physical illness. Severe mental illness has been likened to drug addiction, prostitution, and criminality. Unlike physical disabilities, persons with mental illness are perceived by the public to be in control of their disabilities and responsible for causing them. Furthermore, research respondents are less likely to pity persons with mental illness, instead reacting to psychiatric disability with anger and believing that help is not deserved.
In order to combat that, End The Stigma Ireland and Misophonia International have teamed up to create this Valentine’s Day campaign. End The Stigma, with a great focus on mental health and stigma, and Misophonia International, combatting the stigma associated with a lesser-known disorder. For those that do not know, Misophonia is a neurological disorder where a fight/flight/freeze reaction occurs due to audial or visual stimuli. This can include chewing, tapping, sneezing, or shaking movements.
Instead of stigma, we should be sharing love.
The purpose of #LoveNotStigma is to understand that even though science, psychiatry, or healthcare professionals may not have all the answers, that does not cheapen the suffering of individuals. Valentine’s day is not just a time of romantic love. It is about grabbing what and whom you care for, and declaring those values. We hope that individuals of all walks of life will seize the opportunity to take the hand of another, whether virtual or in their own lives, and declare that love is stronger than stigma.