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Mental illness: banishing the stigma Student group YEWG aims to raise awareness in Hamilton KAITLIN PETERS

town, where due to a combination of poverty, mental illness, and lack of jobs, the lifespan is 21 years less “Ok, so if I don’t sleep tonight then than more affluent areas in the same I should be able to just get my paper city. done before class. Life span differences you But I’m going to have to would expect to see in third world hammer a couple Red Bulls if I plan countries exemplify why it’s so imon having enough energy to write portant to spread awareness of the that afternoon exam. I’m just so prevalence of mental illness in the overwhelmed, I can’t do this any- university and among the greater more!” community. Does this internal rant Dodgson hopes for a ripple sound familiar? For many students effect; by educating youth in Hamilthe typical despair and hopelessness ton, hopefully everyone will benefit that accompany exams can develop because they’ll share that informainto a potentially debilitating men- tion with their family and friends. tal illness such as depression or an But mental illness is not anxiety disorder. only isolated to the poverty-stricken Unfortunately, mental ill- sectors of Hamilton’s core. ness is seldom discussed in polite The pressure of being in conversation because of the societal school can exacerbate symptoms in stigma that is attached to the con- people who may already be vulnercept and those suffering from it. able. But a group of students Second year social work from the McMaster social work student, Melissa Koch notes there program intend to change our com- is the common misconception that munity’s locked lips when it comes because you’re in university, getting to mental illness. good grades, and essentially being a As part of the Youth En- stereotypical well-adjusted youth it gagement Working Group, these means you couldn’t possibly suffer social work students intend to from a mental illness. raise awareness of the prevalence Someone could be doing of mental illness in Hamilton and extremely well academically, while fight to banish the stigma associated simultaneously suffering from with it. CollaboratSchizophrenia. ing with Lynwood It’s not appropriHall, a publicly The common misconcep- ate to make assumpfunded child and tions. tion that because you’re It’s important for family centre, the in university, getting students and staff the student body to are investigating good grades, and essen- know that there are different ways to tially being a stereotypi- resources available engage and educate to them; namely the cal well-adjusted youth Student Success and the youth in Hamit means you couldn’t Development Cenilton concerning mental illness. possibly suffer from a tre and the Campus For example, stuHealth Centre. mental illness.” dents are currently A lot of people visiting elementary aren’t aware of the schools and using resources McMaster art as a medium to ask “What does has to offer. If you suffer from an mental illness mean to you?” Marisa anxiety disorder, you have the right Dodgson, a fourth year social work to request that accommodations be student, noted that mental illness is made for you. not really addressed in educational In fact, Marisa Dodgson settings. states that every social work profes Even in health class there sor will announce at the beginning is a tangible lack of education and of term that students should come resources concerning mental health. to them if they have any special Most of what students learn is from accommodation requests, yet the the media and movies, often por- consistency in which other profestraying mentally ill people as vio- sors demonstrate the same concern lent and dangerous. is questionable. With such a negative stig- But you must decide to ma attached to mental illness, dis- play an active role or those suffercussing the topic has reached taboo- ing from mental illness will continlevel proportions. ued to be treated as society’s “dirty The potential for being little secret.” Banish the social stigostracized or discriminated against ma associated with mental illness based on your mental condition is by becoming knowledgeable and a legitimate excuse for deciding educating others. not to divulge that you’ve suffered One in every five people from Schizophrenia for the past five will suffer from a mental illness at years. some point in their lifetime, mean Mental illness is especially ing that even if you don’t experipoignant from a Hamiltonian per- ence it, you’ll likely know someone Shockingly common, 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. spective. There are pockets down- who does. ASSISTANT INSIDEOUT EDITOR


April 1 A Coffee House presented by YEWG Stomp out the stigma by raising awareness for mental illness 6 p.m. @ Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle Donations are welcome at the door April 7 The Colour Purple - The musical 7:30 p.m. @ Hamilton Place for more details April 7-10 Hamilton Literary Festival for more info

April 8-10 6th Annual Food and Drink Festival $15 @ the door for more details April 8 Hamilton Art Crawl 7 p.m. @ James St. North April 13 AGH Fil Series Force of Nature:The David Suzuki Movie 7 p.m. @ Jackson Square

March 31st, 2011  

March 31st, 2011 issue of The Sil

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