You are amongst the luckier group, because you have you mentally healthy and fine. Have you ever wondered about the challenges faced by mentally ill children and their family members? A family’s identity can be tarnished if the community finds out about a mentally ill relative. People would say, ‘This is the family with the crazy girl.’ Now, as much as you being normal is not an achievement, being mentally ill is not the questioned person’s fault. They are often held symbolic of ill omen, curses, and loathed cruelly. At times, they are even subjects of a threat given by desperate parents to their misbehaving children- ‘If you don’t finish your food, you will go crazy like her.’ All in all, our society is biased towards mentally challenged people.
Northeastern University’s Psychology students, Alaa and Dalal Alhomaizi, are pioneering a change for the betterment of mentally ill individuals. Alhomaizi sisters created a culturally compatible evidence-based campaign whose mission is to overcome the stigma attached to mental illness in the Middle East and shed light on the value of psychology as a scientific discipline. The campaign, called SPEAK (Standing for Psychological Education and Awareness in Kuwait), includes print and television advertisements, social media outreach, and a website with a discussion forum. The effort has garnered significant attention from members of Parliament in Kuwait, who have praised the twins for re-educating Kuwaiti citizens about mental illness. The twins routinely update their Twitter account with facts and statistics about mental illness, which afflicts some 450 million people throughout the world. One tweet quoted former President Bill Clinton, who once said,
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”
Even in developing countries like India, there is a serious lack of awareness about the mentally challenged people. People whether ill, mentally challenged or disabled are humans like me and you. Humanity, compassion, and love are rights as well as duties of every human. Hence, SPEAK UP.