The social issue I will be addressing is stigmatization of people with mental illnesses in their everyday lives. I will be speaking to victims of such stigmatization and, by proxy, to the general public. I want to convey that the marginalization they are feeling is real and there are methods to address it. I want to specifically target college students, as they most likely understand their conditions but may not feel comfortable with them yet. I will take a semi-formal tone and use more advanced language, but I want to make myself relatable to the audience.
The reason I’m writing this is because I have struggled with mental illness since age 17. I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder with a side of severe seasonal affective disorder. A few years later I was diagnosed with bipolar II, primarily influenced by my SAD. My later high school and early college years were a rough time, and I’m sure this is the case with many students struggling with mental illness. Stereotypes about depressed, bipolar, or schizophrenic people are too numerous to count. As I leave college I consider it important to educate my peers on this subject.
The loudest voices in the discussion on mental illness stigma are psychiatric researchers, though the talks often bleed through into the media. The primary discussions are how to reduce this stigma at the personal and community levels. Flanagan & Davidson studied the perceived “telltale” signs of a person with mental illness to better understand how stigma can be erased, and Boaz et al. identified the efficacy of stigma-reduction intervention efforts that can be applied on a community scale. The Huffington Post and USA Today have also weighed in on the issue in the past few years, decrying the stigma and offering ways to change.