My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
The History of Mental Health in America
Why is there a stigma (stigma defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person”) on mental health in our culture?
Many times, stigma is born out of our history with the subject matter being stigmatized. Often, we forget the history but continue to respond as if we remembered, never realizing why we are behaving as such.
If we want to reclaim mental health in a happy and positive way, it is my belief that we must look back in order to see more clearly where we wish to go.
America has a rough history with mental health (as it does with physical health). This is not inherently a bad thing in my opinion, as evolving human beings we experiment until we find the right course, often to unintentionally disturbing ends when we first begin to tinker. Thankfully, we are approaching a beautiful new phase of evolved and happy mental health experiences – but what happened before to give us such a negative slant towards those with mental illness?
In the not so far back past, our culture was imprisoning folks for being “crazy”. In fact, we still do this, even though the conditions are (for the most part) better than they would have been before. If a person is mentally unwell and have no means of support, we tend to incarcerate them. Today, the largest mental health facilities in the United States are the Cook County Jail, the Los Angeles County Jail, and Rikers Island.
Until 1987, just 32 years ago (I know you can do math, but I like to see numbers on the page to awaken perspective) being gay was considered a mental illness. Only a little over one hundred years ago, you could literally be diagnosed “hysterical” as a woman and be treated with prescribed masturbation given by your physician. This happened so often the doctors got tired, and thus the vibrator was invented. Before 1975 you could still be imprisoned against your will for mental health related reasons, now this can only happen if you are deemed a serious threat to yourself or others. And, let’s not forget the good old fashioned lobotomy; a surgical operation involving incision into the prefrontal lobe of the brain, often resulting in decreased motor functions or a permanent vegetative state. To quote Tom Waits: “I’d rather have this bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy”
The stories we have told ourselves about mental health over the years (in movies, books, and literature) and the real consequences that folks had to suffer if diagnosed are still with us – they alter how we perceive humans and how we perceive our own mental health.
If you have a moment to read the following articles over a delicious beverage this week, I think you will be glad for it – I know I was. If you want more information please feel free to reach out, since there are many more interesting articles I found, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the page.
Check out this article for a concise and well written outline of the history on mental health in America (It also includes more on current incarceration of those suffering with mental health today). It unravels a bit at the end, but other than that it is an excellently written piece:http://origins.osu.edu/article/americas-long-suffering-mental-health-system
I think this article does a great job of talking a bit on the relationship to mental health and cinema (It also touches briefly on the origin of “hysteria” in women:https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/23/unsane-a-history-of-mental-illness-in-film
Check this link out for a more general and traditional timeline approach (I loved reading this alongside the other two articles. I think they all pair nicely or stand alone):https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/nash-treatments-mental-illness/
Check out the bottom of this E-mail for more breaking stigma resources!
Update on my Show:
I know I posted this last week, but I think it bears a second shout out: OUR WEBSITE IS OFFICIALLY UP AND RUNNING! Please check it out if you have a second!
AND! An update Video for you to check out.
Many, Many thanks: Margo Siwak and Joe Siwak for the design of the logo, and to Jillian Best and Bill Best for the Website creation and Design! I feel very blessed to have such beautiful humans in my life.
Also, I have been continuing edits and drafts of the script this week! I cannot wait to share this project with you.
Thank You: Thank you VERY much to all who have donated thus far, making this project possible.
Ways to Support: If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here: https://www.gofundme.com/one-woman-hamlet
New Resources From Last Week:
has history of mental illness got you wanting to break the stigma on mental health in our culture?
Three ways you can easily help break the stigma this week…
1. Join me at one of the following FREE Hope For The Day events coming up. Here is a link to them: https://www.hftd.org/events
I will be attending “May the 4th be with you”. It’s a fun run to break the stigma on mental health! You can also walk if you like as well! Dogs and children welcome. Let me know if you would like to join me and we can meet up to walk/run together! If you want to attend but don’t live in Chicago, you are welcome to stay with my partner and I. Just reach out.
2. Simply talk to a friend about mental illness, helps to break the stigma immensely. You can do this easily by genuinely asking how someone is doing and listening to their answer (tips on how to do this in a supportive way here)https://www.hftd.org/geteducated#besupportive )
3. Share Hope For The Day (or the mental health organization of your choice) on social media. Letting folks know, It’s O.K Not To Be O.K. You can use these easy links here: https://www.hftd.org/downloadassets
All my best and heart to you,