A Mothers Love and the Many Complexities of Stigma
Welcome to the premier of the NAMI Delaware blog! We are so grateful you are taking the time to read this information. We plan to post twice a month and we’ll have staff and guest bloggers contributing to our blog posts. I’m honored to author the first blog post. Please check back frequently to see the latest posts.
Recently, I had the privilege of working with the mother of an adult son who lives with mental illness. This wonderful woman is a loving mother who adores her son. Her son has had many challenges in life, and has faced many barriers due to his mental illness. A few years ago, he stopped getting treatment for his illness and became a recluse in their home. His health deteriorated and he had no quality of life anymore. He became delusional, paranoid and was experiencing hallucinations for years.
In working with this strong and amazing mom, I was reminded of the significant stigma associated with mental illness and how it can shape our perceptions, create barriers to access care, and be the source of shame and isolation. It was heartbreaking to witness the condition of the home the mother and son shared and hear of the intense struggles to come to terms with mental illness and the need for care and support. All too often, families find themselves feeling alone in their struggle. Due to stigma they try to protect their loved one and family by well-intended protective measures. Trying to protect their privacy sometimes leads to isolation and no access to treatment or support.
After years of resisting having anyone attempt to help her son, she finally consented to allowing specially trained professionals try to intervene. I had the honor to participate in the efforts to offer her son help along with clergy from her church, police officers, mental health crisis professionals, firefighters, and paramedics. The intervention went extraordinarily well. All of the professionals were gentle and kind. They provided care with dignity and respect. The man has been connected to treatment and is enjoying a better quality of life after years of suffering.
This situation is a reminder of our never-ending need to advocate, educate and support those affected by mental illness and erase the stigma associated with these brain health issues.
I encourage you to make plans to attend our Inspiring Hope Conference on October 10th at the Chase Center. You’ll have an opportunity to hear an inspiring and uplifting keynote presentation from Kevin Breel and learn about many programs, services and innovations relating to mental health. Hope to see you there!
Author: Dr. Joshua Thomas, Executive Director