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#StigmaisDiscrimination: Mental Health

by Haile Clay

When we say stigma is a barrier for those dealing with mental illness, what do we actually mean?  Let's break it down.

In the context of social justice, my blog post CribGrown™ On-The-Spot: A Chat With Our CribChief highlights that Navitent DeeperEngaged™ is dedicated to eliminating the toxic stigmas that minorities experience, especially where they are a barrier to achievement.  

I define the DeeperEngaged™ DeeperMeme™ category of “StigmaisDiscrimination” this way:

Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

Is: a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence and forming the central part of the predicate of a sentence.

Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.

#StigmaisDiscrimination, in a social justice context, means "a mark that leads to action that is an unjust or prejudicial treatment or behavior that limits us from achievement."

The word stigma on its own can be used to describe the negative stereotype assigned to people with mental illness. Those who are dealing with mental illness say that the stigma, rather than the illness itself, is what prevents them from seeking treatment and ultimately living a fuller life. 

2) Description of the Problem Observed

Imagine carrying around this stigma, and being a minority as well. It’s layers upon layers of discrimination working against you. The reality is that it’s hard enough to be a minority, trying to figure out how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you have no generational knowledge, but add something like severe anxiety or depression to it and it’s hard to find a way through it all.

Among minority groups, generational knowledge is limited. The knowledge handed down through generations can be limited by the education and experience that was historically afforded them.  

If you think this kind of discrimination is a thing of the past, think again. Research shows that this lack of minority inclusion is due to the fact that we don’t place a high enough value on preparing and recruiting them.  Hoping that this doesn’t continue to happen, is not a solution. 

3) Living Experience from #MyDeeperMoments

In many high-paying industries (Silicon Valley for one), self stigma can cause many minority groups to feel they are not even worthy of applying for a job in that industry. I share how he experienced this first hand as one of the only black men in this industry when he first started out.   It’s a vicious cycle that just fosters fear, rejection, anxiety, and depression. Getting out of our own way can be the hardest part of finding the solution. At Navitent, our goal is to be part of creating solutions. Solutions to help fight mental health stigmas, especially among minority groups.

4) Root Cause Analysis: Breaking Down the Mental Illness Stigma

There’s no reason to feel ashamed of something you have no control over - or feel ashamed of getting help. The only way to really fight stigma as discrimination is to take ownership and not hide behind the stigma. Mental health is still health. It’s something to be taken care of, not hidden or ignored. The more we encourage people to talk about their mental health, advocate for themselves, and get the help they need, the more productive and successful they will be in life. 

At Navitent, we’ve worked hard to create a platform for solutions that we will make available on November 15th, 2021 through the DeeperEngaged™ platform. The bottom line? Making mental health services accessible for all, without the shame. It’s about taking clear and up front steps to overcome the limits we put on ourselves with self-stigma. Do the steps in private or in a private group. Only when we do something to change the behavior, are we able to actually change the results.  

#GetDeeperEngaged with your mental health starting right now. Mental illness is not anyone’s fault. But the stigma is what YOU make it – if you have the tools to combat it, the limits are self-limits, not real limits. You can change the outcome in your job, your relationships, and your community. Achieve your goals and live stigma free, plus be a model – a success story – to others in your community by inviting them to join us in the fight.

5) Framework for What is Needed

At Navitent, we are developing modules for mental health touch points, including employers, that provide them with a program they can bring people they touch or are reaching out to before they are even hired to to bring them into a community of tools and support to break down the barrier of stigma. This serves as a way to bridge the gap that society has failed to fill in.

Adding value, step-by-step, is the only way to fix the gap permanently and not just bridge it. It’s a real solution that shows minorities where they’ll get excellent leadership and be valued as an employee. Blaming a culture and community that doesn’t encourage pursuing these jobs in the first place, is not a solution. We need to put this kind of outreach in the hands of employers to end the perception and stigma sabotage.

6) Navitent DeeperEngaged™ for Social Justice Programs and Modules

How can you help make a difference and do your part to eliminate mental health stigmas? Support us. Join us. Sign up for the news letter and stay tuned for more information as we gear up to launch DeeperEngaged for Social Justice and CribGrown™, a place just for black achievers to develop programs for us and by us.

Launching November 15, 2021.