LOOKS can be deceiving. People who are mentally ill do not all look the same, yet society and the media have a habit of pigeon holing them in the same way and portraying them all as head clutching faceless nobodies.
This is wrong and misinformed. Not all vulnerable adults and people with mental illnesses look the same and in many cases most of them look like healthy people as they fight to maintain a façade of normality.
The stigma attached to mental health illness is seen as a sign of weakness and in these pressure-cooker times, we can’t be seen admitting we need help. This adds to the illness, as the battle to appear ‘normal’ becomes part of the mental illness compounding the trauma for the person. When they then see images of people who are mentally ill clutching their heads and having no face it only makes things worse.
Almost everyone will have some form of mental illness during their lifetime, ranging from "the blues" through to a complete breakdown that demands intensive support.
This week, the celebrity, Stephen Fry backed a campaign to try and change the way society views people with mental health issues. We’re right behind it.
He cited this particular stereotype of The Headclutcher and said it was both misinformed and damaging. ubu supports more than 500 people, many with complex conditions; none of them look the same nor do they portray common symptoms.
Granted, when people first come to ubu they can be withdrawn and shy. Some may not look as they should because of the way they have been treated has cast a shadow over their lives. Within a few weeks we have proven that we can help everyone have a better quality of life and that quickly improves the way they look and feel about themselves and their lives.
Supporting people with complex conditions is challenging because the hardest battle is often the ones they are having within themselves to believe that they have a value to society or an ability to be part of it. Negative media images make our job more difficult. ubu doesn’t just help the people we serve; our model of support also helps society. If society wants to truly benefit it must also be part of the solution and change the way it perceives people with mental illness and stop stereotyping them and stigmatising them.
After all if you treat a person as they are they will remain as they are, but if you treat them as they could be they will become what they should be. And then everyone wins.
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