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Would You Be Willing to Out Yourself?

Posted Oct 22 2009 10:02pm

I was watching Good Morning America and they had a segment on mental illness.  The guests were Glenn Close and her sister Jessie Close.  They wanted to bring attention to the fact that 1 in 6 Americans have a mental illness.  They created a public service announcement to bring this issue to the consciousness of everyone who sees the commercial. 

The commercial takes place in Grand Central Station in New York City.  We see the hustle and bustle and then two or three people walking together wearing t-shirts.  The person with the mental illness is wearing a t-shirt with their diagnosis, and the family member/loved one wears on with their relation to the person with the mental illness.  It’s a brave move, and one that takes a personal resolution to take on the illness and become your own advocate in the mental health system.  The public service announcement also shed light on the fact that we often don’t know about someone’s mental illness, we attribute their behavior to stories we make up about them.  It’s a courageous and necessary consciousness raising commercial.  If you don’t see it on television, go to http://www.bringchange2mind.org.

As you know I focus on physical health challenges at http://www.survivingstrong.com.  I have a question for you, “Would you be willing to wear a t-shirt out in public ( a very public venue) for all the world to see?”  There are some illnesses where just leaving your house outs you and your diagnosis, but what about the more invisible illnesses?  What about for those of you whose symptoms are very mild or only visible to those who know your diagnosis, would you be willing to wear a billboard on your t-shirt announcing to the world your own challenge? 

This is how we bring about change, by creating consciousness raising programs like the one headed by Glenn and Jessie Close.  They were willing to face the stigma associated with mental illness to get people talking.  It got me immediately motivated to post this entry to begin the dialogue.  It’s through connection and communication that we can build understanding and compassion for all who are facing a physical or mental health challenge.  Go see the public service announcement and let me know how it impacted you.  Will you do anything different after seeing the public service announcement?

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