Make it OK! Stop the Stigma!

A pro StopTheStima pin reading

A pro StopTheStima pin reading "It's ok not to be ok" Photo Credit: @Sootmegs on Etsy

Annabelle Goettl, Editor-in-chief

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Depressed people are lazy and weak. People who have hallucinations are crazies. These are just a couple of the falsely-held negative misconceptions or stigmas that our society associates with mental illness. 

Stigmas associated with issues surrounding mental health are commonplace, creating an inhospitable environment for those who are suffering. But, hopefully, this stigma can be reduced, or even banished, through education, awareness, support, and inclusion. Stop the Stigma, a new organization started at Brophy College Prep, and open to Xavier students, encourages just this attitude toward mental health and illness. We must accept that mental illness affects our lives in one way or another, and work together to erase the social stigmas associated with it.  

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) data, the United States has a recorded 19.1 percent of adults (equivalent to 47.6 million people) who experienced mental health issues in 2018. Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration claims an immense unmet need for mental health services for adults around the nation. MakeitOk.org defines mental illness as a medical condition disrupting a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. NAMI’s mission is to measure how common and recurrent mental illnesses are, to better understand and manage the physical, social, and financial impact of it all. By providing data to society, they strive to raise awareness of the stigma around mental health, establish outlets for assistance and show that no one in alone.  

People commonly think of mental health as having a stigma around it. But, what is a stigma? As defined by MakeitOK.org, a stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that society has about something. Stigmas come in all forms: exclusion, silence, labeling. Brophy College Preparatory alumnus, Freddy Soto ‘18, yearned to stop the stigma of mental health.

 Soto engineered the Stop the Stigma campaign on the Brophy Campus in 2018, implementing a day of advocacy, presentations, and prayer. He told the Brophy newspaper, The Roundup, “the purpose of the movement is to allow kids the opportunity to come and talk about how they truly feel when no one is around. Too often, we tend to suffer in silence when it comes to dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, OCD, you name it,” he said. “This club is meant to break that silence.” 

This campaign didn’t leave the Brophy campus with Soto following his graduation. Today, it continues to flourish as movement that students of all grades are encouraged to participate in.

Although officially a Brophy group, Xavier students are invited to participate as well. As one of Xavier’s leaders, Klonoski encourages XCP students to get involved with the campaign. “We are looking to create events and meetings for those who feel strongly about advocating for mental health or are struggling themselves, in need of a sense of support.” Both the Brophy and Xavier leaders are currently in the works of creating more events and urge participation from anyone and everyone. 

You can join this movement for whatever reason motivates you. You may want to help a friend or relative who suffers from mental illness. Or you may struggle with mental health issues yourself. Klonoski is incredibly passionate about mental health and wishes she “was more informed about mental health issues so that I could support myself better at an earlier age.” By joining this movement, Klonoski hopes to give that opportunity of awareness and self-evaluation to girls and boys of all ages, just like she was given in middle school. Letting people know that there is a sea of peers, adults, and counselors ready to comfort, and work with you in times of need is what Stop The Stigma is all about. 

Keep your ears perked for announcements about future Stop the Stigma events on homeroom announcements, their Instagram page (@stopthestigma_bcpxcp) or right here through XPRESS!  

 

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