TED Talk, mental health, suicide prevention, stigma, mental health discussion, resources, mental wellness, emotions, tough conversations, shame

Breaking Stigma Around Mental Illness

Kitty Westin highlights that many of the key people we know and look up to such as Winston Churchhill, Angelina Jolie, Micheal Phelps, Lady Gaga, and Vincent Van Gogh are all prime examples of people who have been affected by mental health issues. Mental health does not discriminate based on age, ethnicity, occupation, sexuality, or political preference. It also impacts everyone in some way shape or form. 

She shares the heartbreaking story of her daughter Anna who struggled with anorexia nervosa from the age of sixteen. Kitty shares her frustration with the lack of knowledge surrounding her daughter’s struggles. She recalls many people just telling her to “make her daughter eat”. Which was incredibly frustrating for her at the time. Unfortunately, her daughter died by suicide in the year 2000. Since her daughter’s passing, she has dedicated her life to trying to figure out why there is so much shame and stigma surrounding these disorders. 

Turns out there are many things underlying the stigma. However, it is important to try to change these stigmas as this is one of the main factors that lead people to not seek mental health treatment. It turns out a lot of the stigma surrounds diagnosis that people feel others can control. For example, she shares the tragic story of a woman named Leslie who was struggling with Bulimia. She admitted herself to the ER following a binge and was met with a lack of compassion by the medical staff. They thought that since she caused the binge she “did this to herself” and offered little help. Leslie’s stomach ended up bursting and she later died.

“When people realize mental illness is not a choice, it will lead to more compassion and in turn save more lives”. 

Watch the TedTalk Here.

Image Credits:
Feature ImageMitch, On Unsplash. Creative Commons.