Guest Post: Why I didn’t celebrate “World Mental Health Day”
Everyone, please welcome our first guest poster, Arwyn of Raising My Boychick. Arwyn lives in the United States’ Pacific Northwest with The Man, the Boychick, bipolar type 2, and migraines. When the intersection of her neurology and the kyriarchal society she lives in allows, she writes feminist thoughts inspired by parenting a presumably-straight white probably-male at Raising My Boychick.
When I heard Friday night that Saturday October 10 was World Mental Health Day, I was excited: another day like Celebrate Bisexuality Day, but for us crazy folk?? Sign me up! When I Googled it, however, this is what I found:
Mental, neurological and behavioural disorders are common in all countries around the world, causing immense suffering and staggering economic and social costs. People with disorders are often subjected to social isolation, poor quality of life and higher death rates.
Bellevision Global (a parish in the United Arab Emirates — particularly look at the pictures on this site, if you are able):
Mental illness such as anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, if not properly diagnosed and treated would lead to poor work performance, family disruption, and contribute greatly to the global burden of disease.
[United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon] states, “Mental disorders contribute to more disease burden and disability in developing countries than any other category of non-communicable disease, yet only a small minority of people with mental disorders in these countries have access to mental health services.”
Well ain’t that just fucking cheery. Thanks ever so much for the pathologization folks; there can never be enough support for the “those crazies = horrible miserable burden on society!!1!” meme.
To be fair, there was some good coverage as well. From the World Federation for Mental Health:
“Today, we call on all governments and partners to include measures for mental health in efforts to achieve human development and respond to humanitarian crises,” Ms. Obaid said. “Mental health is central to human dignity.”
See the difference there? How the first three talk about how those people (that’s me, gentle reader!) affect the rest of us (that’s all you normal, sane, not-crazy people; you know, the ones that matter)? How they say the reason “mental illness” needs awareness is because they (still me!) are a burden, a drag, a fiscal drain? And then how the last one is based on the radical idea that, gee, we are actually people and we matter too? Tiny difference there, don’tcha think?
If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m not in the greatest head space right now — to say the least. And yet, silly me, I still expect that when a group (or a day) purports to be helping me, to be bringing awareness to my needs, I not be dehumanized, pathologized, Other-ized, and victimized once again. I expect that it be recognized that my dis-ease, my dis-ability, arises from the intersection of my being and the kyriarchal society I live in. I expect to not be confronted with still more language and images that portray me and mine as miserable, sick, taunted, shunned, hated, and ignored. (Are we those things? Yes, in this fucked up kyriarchy, we are. But we’re also joyful, healthy, embraced, befriended, loved, and celebrated, and we damn well should be portrayed that way too. The constant portrayal of us as stigmatized contributes to our stigmatization.)
So no, I did not celebrate World Mental Health Day, because it was just World Fuck Over the “Mentally Ill” Day, which makes it different from the other 364 days a year… not at all.
Wake me up when it’s World Mad Pride Day. That, I think I can get behind.
This post is being moderated by the FWD staff.