A few weeks ago I was on one of my favorite sites, Upworthy, when I came across a story called What’s it like living with mental illness? Ask Wil Wheaton. It included an amazing video in which actor Wil Wheaton talks about his experience with mental illness and introduced me to a non-profit organization called Project UROK!
Founded in 2014 (launched spring 2015) by 20-something comedian, Jenny Jaffe, their “mission is to create funny, meaningful videos for teenagers struggling with mental health issues, made by people who have been there before.” They aim to develop an online community to provide teens living with mental illness a sense of hope and belonging. My favorite part of the site, the video section (which I binge watched), has videos by celebrities as well as users. Project UROK! promotes acceptance, empowerment, and changing the conversation about mental illness all things IEI stands firmly behind!
Lindsay Holmes recently brought attention to a cartoon by artist, Robot Hugs, in her piece titled, “What if People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness?,” which was published in the Stronger Together section of the Huffington Post. Titled “Helpful Advice,” the cartoon depicts, in 6 vignettes, what it would be like if we treated physical illness the same way we treat mental illness. My personal favorite being a guy hugging the toilet bowl while another looms over his shoulder saying ” Have you tried…you know… not having the flu?” Holmes says, “many people still don’t get that being diagnosed with a mental illness isn’t something that’s in their control — just like having the flu, or food poisoning, or cancer isn’t in their control.”
See the full article and cartoon here. If you have other cartoons or know other artist whose work focuses on similar topics, please share in the comments section.
*Robot Hugs is a web comic focusing on diverse topics such as mental health, sexuality, and identity.
Wanted to share this wonderfully inspirational video created and provided by NAMI Mercer’s Shalanda Shaw. Enjoy!
I was talking to a peer who works 30 plus hours a week by getting up at 4:00AM to be on a train by 5:20AM. The person walks to the train station, takes the train, and then connects to a bus. This is a long day- – but more importantly a rewarding routine of earned income, feelings of social inclusion and more. I can empathize as I didn’t drive for 16 years. I walked and learned to navigate a bus and train in order to work a part time position. I didn’t have to get up as early as this peer and I applaud them and others who acknowledge the importance and value of employment in one’s recovery journey.
When speaking to this person I was reminded of a provider’s concerns last year about promoting driver’s licenses for people living with mental health concerns. That well-meaning provider and others are concerned about the potential stress put on people with psychiatric conditions to have an expectation of getting a driver’s license. As I mentioned, I didn’t drive for 16 years, though I actually had a driver’s license. I lost confidence in driving becoming both vocationally and socially limited. However, I am glad I continued to renew the license which gave me respected and non-stigmatizing identification. Fondly, I remember a friend who moved to Florida giving me round-trip tickets to visit because I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I took airport transportation with my “undisputed” driver’s license for airport security check-in. No need for a state issued “non-driver’s licensed” ID. I have now been driving for 10 years affording me expanded work/career opportunities.
So what do you think about persons living with mental illness getting a driver’s license and managing the responsibilities that come with it like anyone else (drive to help out, an emergency situation, ID., etc.)?
As we work to improve opportunities for people with the lived experience of mental illness, we inevitably find ourselves battling misinformation and prejudice. Whether you’re a peer, a consultant, a provider, a family member, or an educator, you have probably found yourself up against people who have very low expectations for people with mental illness. As vigorously as we challenge those beliefs, nothing is more powerful than a personal story. This link is to an article recently in the New York Times written by a law professor who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. It is well worth the read.