continued “Mental illness is like having a broken leg,” Black said.
For example, a physical aliment of the heart causes issues associated with having a weak or damaged heart. The brain is just another organ, except it handles thoughts and behavior, so a defect or illness in that area could impact thought and behavior, or any other brain function.
Bulris said that stigma specifically means mental health.
“We need to educate,” Bulris said.
Black suggested that educators spend time on mental illness when students are in eighth grade.
She further stressed that teachers have the responsibility in the classroom of correcting language. Perhaps the language doesn’t hurt the majority of students who are privileged not to suffer from a mental illness, but for the children who are afflicted, the stigma can be emotionally painful, even abusive. It is also likely to affect individuals with family members diagnosed with a mental illness.
Panelists said Hollywood and the media do not help the situation when they sensationalize aspects of mental illness and only play up the dramatic symptoms.
“We are going to chip away at the stigma by changing the conversation,” Black said.