Tuesday, 11 September 2012
We were chosen to host 40 incoming freshmen as part of Boston University’s First Year Service Outreach Project (FYSOP). Between August 29th and 31st, we hosted 3 groups of 13 students who spent 7 hours each day volunteering with us. After helping us with numerous projects, we asked them to write about their experiences. Read about their experiences, written in their own words.
“The First Year Student Outreach Project at Boston University, affectionately known as FYSOP, recruits incoming freshman to arrive at school a week early to perform community service in the Boston area. Our group was lucky enough to spend a day of service working with Families for Depression Awareness.
One of the main goals of FFDA, which we helped fulfill today, is to raise awareness of mental illness and combat stigma. To help achieve this goal, FFDA will be holding their second annual Strides Against Stigma fundraiser walk at Boston University’s Nickerson Field. We contributed to the effort by brainstorming fundraiser activities, making posters, and making phone calls to last year’s participants.
We were shocked to learn statistics about the number of people suffering from mental illnesses, the national suicides rates, and the number of misinformed people. We began to understand the challenges facing people living with mental health disorders and we have learned the necessity for greater compassion.
FFDA told us how stigma can be detrimental to a person living with a mental illness, and how it can even inhibit their willingness to seek treatment. This stigma makes people feel ashamed and as if there is something wrong with them. It can often cause them to be scared to admit that something is wrong because they worry about being judged. These judgments can be a roadblock to getting the help they need.
Our society is not informed about the impact of labeling people by their disabilities. We think we know what illnesses are based on by what we see in the media, but these are often extreme and specific examples of the each disability. This is incredibly true with “invisible disabilities” (i.e., bipolar disorder, OCD, depression).
FFDA has taught us not to perpetuate these stereotypes or to label people based on conditions that they may be living with. As simple as stigmatic phrases are to say and let slide, it can be just as simple to denounce those phrases and thoughts. We need to break down the misconceptions and change people's attitudes. More needs to be done to raise awareness in our communities. We can fight stigma by being vocal advocates.
Spreading awareness and education about these issues is so important. Mark your calendars for April 27, 2013 and join Families for Depression Awareness and FYSOP for Strides Against Stigma!”