Throughout my entire life, I’ve been surrounded by the burden of stigma that has latched on to mental health in our society. I’ve witnessed the pain of friends and family that goes unacknowledged and misunderstood. It feels like barely a whisper in hushed conversations in the outskirts of rooms. It is too afraid to speak its mind because its mind is damaged after all, right? The overbearing power that stigma has over mental health is created in layers; people don’t speak of it because it is an uncomfortable or shameful topic, but I see it as anything but shameful. To have a mental illness or disorder is not to be weak or incapable, but rather to be strong and persistent. I insist that our world become more accepting of those who have experienced mental health in a different way than what is unjustly perceived as “normal,” and I propose a solution in which we express compassion in dialogue and shed an unwavering light upon what has been hidden in the darkness for so long.
“they echo in linoleum hallways surrounded in cinderblock almost stronger than what they once were.”
– emily chen
As our society progresses, emotional distress has become more and more prevalent in the everyday lives of many people. Project Perception has been developed in order to shatter the stigma that follows these people, as well as a way to prevent it from taking root in the first place. These people are not defined by their labels––they are defined by the passions and creativities that determine their lives. The stigma of mental illness is extremely prevalent and often controls the lives of the people who suffer from it––even before it has taken root.
People who suffer from it are labeled based on this one aspect of their lives and everything else is overshadowed or ignored, including their passions, talents, ambitions, and achievements. Stigma often stands in the way of interpersonal connections and communication, and it is detrimental to the collaborative and understanding environment which is essential in solving problems worldwide.
It is difficult for people to understand what they have not experienced, so those who are struggling feel as if they are alone and have no one to turn to. Though this project will not target one specific audience, I am hoping to especially make an impact on the lives of those who suffer from the stigma by revealing the people behind the labels.
As a student in high school and a close friend of several people who have suffered immensely from mental illness, I have immersed myself in a society in which the stigma of mental illness is a prevalent problem. The issue has a significant place in my heart, and I have always strived to be as understanding and supportive of those who experience mental illness as possible. I hope to change the minds of people worldwide and open their eyes to the weight that my project holds.
–– Emily Chen
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