Let's talk about Dignity
This year, World Mental Health Day opens up for discussions about what dignity means, how we can change perceptions of dignity and what we can do to make sure that, going forward, people suffering from mental illnesses are given the dignity, they deserve. It is also an opportunity to shed a light on the fact that a mental illness is a real disease that should be given the same dignity and attention as any somatic illness.
At Lundbeck, we want to contribute to World Mental Health Day by kick-starting conversations around this important subject and we have thus initiated a ‘Dignity in Mental Health’ -campaign aimed at creating awareness around the diversity of what dignity means and to start the conversation around what dignity could be tomorrow.
We will be inviting people to share what dignity means to them and through these statements, hopefully be able to paint a picture of the endless different perceptions of dignity around the world. We hope that we and those who engage in the conversations will learn from other people and that we together can work towards increasing dignity in mental health.
What is dignity in mental health?
The World Federation of Mental Health established World Mental Health Day in 1992 aiming to educate the public on mental health at all levels of society. WFMH has been very successful in establishing World Mental Health Day as a landmark each year for mental health education, but we all need to support the day and its purpose in order increase awareness and further success.
Dictionaries define dignity as ‘the state or quality of being worthy of honor and respect’, a basic feeling that should every human being should be allowed to feel. However, the reality is quite different, in fact, more than 70% of people living with brain diseases experience discrimination1 and are consequently not treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Research shows that stigma surrounding mental illnesses and discrimination of people living with a disorder can eventually stop these people from doing normal things such as building new and retaining existing friendships and finding and keeping jobs2. It literally stops them from living a normal live.
1Some stats on the devastating impact of mental illness worldwide, followed by some reasons for hope, Ted Talk by Vikram Patel (http://blog.ted.com/some-stats-on-the-devastating-impact-of-mental-illness-worldwide-followed-by-some-reasons-for-hope/). Posted by Kate Torgovnik May, September 11, 2012, TED Blog.
2Stigma Shout: Service user and carer experiences of stigma and discrimination. Published by Time to Change, UK, 2008 (http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/Stigma%20Shout.pdf)