Fear and stigma are inextricably linked, creating a mass of silence and shame around the issue of mental illness. In this interview extract, Patrick A. Roland, author of ‘Unpacked Sparkle’ tells us his views on how fearful perspectives can be understood, and the conversation on mental health can be moved forwards.

“Keep talking about it. It’s fear that keeps people from coming forward and fear is promoted by silence. So, if we break the silence, we kill fear and people are able to live openly and feel more free to be themselves. We need more people living with mental illness to step forward and be role models to those who aren’t ready yet to be open.

We also need to see more examples of ‘normal’ people with mental illness. I put normal in quotes because obviously I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone who lives with mental illness, but when someone opens fire on a church and the media says they are mentally ill, that promotes fear and outrage around mental illness.

Conversation Pieces: Night, 1990-91 by William Utermohlen

That type of behavior is not indicative of all people with mental illness, but it’s “sexy” and gets attention because it makes headlines and causes fear. People actually love fear. We don’t know how to live without it. It’s what we are conditioned to be motivated by. But what if we were motivated by love instead? Just think how different things could be! 

The best thing that we can do is keep talking about mental health. Those of us that feel comfortable standing in our truth and owning who we are have a duty to do so for those who still don’t. I choose to be open about it. I understand why others aren’t. But as long as I have a voice, I intend to use it.”

Read more of Patrick’s interview: ‘Happiness is an Inside Job: Patrick A. Roland on Self-Love |“I was told I use my bipolar diagnosis as a crutch”

How do you understand fear surrounding mental illness?

Posted by:repsychl

2 replies on “Breaking the Silence Around Mental Illness

  1. I realized as I became more aware that depression and anxiety were considered Mental Illness that it meant I was considered an “Ill” person. Sometimes I think it’s just another way for someone to say “Phew! At least I’m not like THAT poor soul!” and feel better about themselves. Like I’m the flu and they’re afraid they might catch it.


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