If you tune in to any conversation about mental illness, it won’t be very long until the term “stigma” comes up. Stigma has several definitions, but they all refer to negative attitudes, beliefs, descriptions, language or behavior. In other words, stigma can translate into disrespectful, unfair, or discriminatory patterns in how we think, feel, talk and behave towards individuals experiencing a mental illness. Despite some progress over recent years, the stain associated with mental health problems still prevails.
In consequence, many sufferers feel ashamed, embarrassed and fear being labeled “mentally ill” or “crazy”, even if they suffer from the most common of illnesses such as depression and anxiety. They often prefer to underrate their illness or endure their agony in silence than reaching out for help, which makes them feel lonely or alone in their misery, triggering the worst cycles of depression and anxiety.
Knowing that the most violent element in society is ignorance, which gives rise to discrimination and shame, Identity Magazine settled on a plan of action to shed the light on this major issue and help put an end to stigmatizing other people’s pain.
Identity Magazine launched its mental health awareness campaign (Website) with an aim to counter this stigma, encourage people to come out of their shell and stop hurting by themselves. What the stigma does is rob people of having a support network when they’re dealing with this illness; this campaign is a chance to provide them with this support network.
This multi-faceted campaign is broadcasted on all social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and consists of three videos. The first video features Ahmed Bahaa, lead singer of Sharmoofers, who will share his personal experience and his story with a mental health problem to inspire the viewers to seek help and not be ashamed. In addition, the other videos feature people who suffer from mental illness narrating their stories and battles with this disease, in order for sufferers everywhere to know they are not alone.
Bringing this subject out of the darkness is a good starting point and a great load off for us as a community, as a country, but it isn’t enough. What distinguishes this movement from others is that it also provides actual solutions for the sufferer. Behman Hospital, founded by Dr. Nasser Loza, Consultant Psychiatrist, will offer in-clinic free consultations as a form of collaboration with Identity Magazine. El Kasr El-Ainy “El Fransawy” offers 25% for anyone who comes through the campaign for a year. A community can’t be fixed if all its members didn’t work together to mend and repair its issues.
Mental illness is no different from any physical pain; it requires professional help. The deepest pain is denying your feelings to make everyone else comfortable, so let’s put a stop to this. Let us not allow our society to keep falling victim for the monstrosity of this disease. Let’s all league our forces and unite our voices in order to make a difference.
Join our movement to send a clear message that it’s ok to openly discuss mental health issues and to ask for help. Show support and share the videos, and a selfie on your social media platforms with the hashtags #YouAreNotAlone #مش_عيب. Here’s to a mentally healthy society, without stigmas.