By: Felicia Lombardi
There is a myth held by many that those suffering from mental illnesses are “unpredictable, potentially violent, and dangerous.” Rather, people who have mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators of violence, thus contributing to their feelings of being stigmatized. The story unraveling in the news has the potential to deepen this debilitating belief that contributes to the stigma of mental illness already grounded in today’s society. Instead, this event should cause people to question the stigmatization of mental illness and the ways in which it may prevent people from seeking appropriate care, thus making it harder to identify individuals at risk of causing harm to both themselves and others. Misinformation is a leading cause of stigmatization of individuals with mental illnesses, so promoting education and awareness of the various mental illnesses and how they affect people is one way to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is the goal of Emory’s student-led organization, Active Minds, whose members seek to spread awareness throughout the community by promoting open discussion about mental health and encouraging help-seeking behavior.
For more information about Active Minds: http://studenthealth.emory.edu/cs/outreach_services/volunteer_opps/active_minds.html
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