Name: Laurel Kemper
Most people have had direct or indirect experience with a mental disorder. In fact, most people have some degree of predisposition to mental disorders. Sometimes when aggravated by stress, a mental disorder surfaces. In many people, symptoms of depression and anxiety lie dormant or aren’t serve until later in life. It took me eight years and a panic attack before I decided to seek professional help for anxiety and depression. I’m aware that whether or not someone has a strong genetic predisposition; it is easy to get overwhelmed. So why is the stigma attached to mental illness so strong? Because of this stigma people end up too embarrassed to seek help for their illness. William Styron makes a valid point in his book, A Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would be laying flat in bed, possibly sedated, hooked up to the tubes and wires and life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained.
My project seeks to address the stigma against mental health. Mental health should be as easy to talk about as physical health. Why is it considered for people to call in to work for a physical ailment, but not so to call in to work for being mentally distraught? It is common to talk about being sick and needing to go to the doctor, but it is still uncomfortable for many to talk aobut being mentally sick and needing to go see a therapist.
I am designing a public intervention on St. Edwards campus to initiate a new conversation about mental health. My project will hopefully provide an opportunity to raise awareness for mental health. Long term, It would be nice if society’s attitude towards mental health could be the same as society’s attitude towards physical health.