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Mental Health Stigma

The stigma around men’s mental health often goes overlooked. Since I was a boy, I’ve been disciplined to deal with my emotions in a very particular way. Daphne Rose Kingma said it best in her book The Men We Never Knew, “Men are taught, point-by-point, not to feel, not to cry, and not to find the words to express themselves.” This became very apparent to me when I was in my early years of college and had my first panic attack. I was at a party, surrounded by a group of guys and, very quickly, found them all laughing at me and taking videos for amusement. The panic turned to tears and I was criticized for, “acting like a woman.” This is just one example of men’s mental health stigma.
As a job seeker with a mental illness, it can seem daunting and slightly worrying when it comes to writing a resume. So many thoughts can fly through your mind such as, “Will they mind that I have a mental illness?”, “Does it affect my chances of getting the position?”, or “Will they think of me as less-abled when it comes to the task at hand?”
After a recent depression relapse, I was reminded that I must fight self-stigmatization. Recently I was slapped in the face by an ugly bout with depression. Not one or two days of it—the obnoxious kind that parks his recreational vehicle on your front lawn for a few weeks. It’s been playing Duck, Duck, Goose with me for a few months and I’ve been trying to avoid it. But it caught me. And it invited a few metaphorical demons to join this sadistic game.
Pilots’ mental health is a hot topic and stigma surrounding pilot's mental health is an important point to highlight. I am an airline pilot and mental health advocate. Let me tell you my experience with aviation, mental health and what I know about flying, stigma and being a pilot with a mental illness.
Do you have a child with mental illness? Sometimes, receiving inquiries from others about your child's mental health situation can catch you off-guard or be awkward.
I was talking with a friend recently about disclosure related to our mental illnesses. We were trying to figure out how and when you tell someone that you have a mental illness. It is a difficult problem, not only for those of us living with mental illness, but also for family members, because mental health stigma still exists. We were specifically discussing how, when, and if we should tell a potential employer about our mental illness.
Dysfunction doesn’t run, it gallops through my family tree! Growing up in a home with parents who were depressed, anxious and with various other emotional problems, tends to create children with the same issues. I am a testament to just that. I have never felt normal. I was always very reserved, withdrawn, cried easily and often I just wanted to sleep. I had few friends. I still shy away from people.