There’s a proliferation in our society of so called ‘true’ stories and ‘reality’ shows. The reason is they work. People are interested. There’s an entertainment value to them. However, there’s little of truth in ‘true stories’ and little ‘reality’ in reality shows.
Interestingly, this comes amidst a movement for authenticity. We also claim, as a society, that we are attracted to, and want, people to be themselves, to be real, to speak their truth. And yet…
Often we favour messages, ideas, ‘findings’, that are, if not outright lies, inaccurate or false. For example, we pretend that certain groups, gender, ethnicity, socially disparate, are either ‘better’, more clever, more intelligent; or the reverse, that they are not quite as smart, messier, less human, with less rights.
Of late, I’ve also become aware that sometimes we imbue certain quasi-divine aspects to certain groups in our society.
We pretend they are intrinsically good, moral, and that they can do no wrong. We do this with a variety of groups, and I’m not going to mention them because it will upset people. But you work it out.
But, what I will say is that when it comes to people with mental health problems, we do that too. I do mention this one because this is my turf. From so many levels, it’s wrong, ineffective and damaging to all, to pretend that because a person has a mental health issue, they are intrinsically nice. BIG mistake.
People are what and who they choose to be, and having a mental health issue is just an add on.
But what of Stigma? am I not adding to the stigma of mental illness? I’m a firm believer that stigma can only be managed through truth and honesty. An authentic discourse. To pretend that things are in a certain way when they are not, does nothing for removing stigma – it just adds to the problem. I believe people, all of us, have an ‘incongruency detector’ (in Aussie parlance we call that a ‘BS detector’) and somehow we know something’s amiss. When we do that, we develop an inner resentment, that is fertile ground for more stigma, and discrimination, not less.
Let’s get real. With compassion. It’s the only way to help people in the throes of despair.
Have a mentally healthy day!
PS: if you like what you’ve just read, there’s a report here 7 Fatal Mistakes (free download) that can be useful to anyone in a leadership position.