I’m proud to speak out against stigma


A post from our Community Correspondent Holly McCormack @hollz2012 , who edits Mental Matters magazine

I’ve been proud of many decisions that I’ve made in the last few years. It was important to me whilst at University to start doing something meaningful.

Not just standing at a Saturday afternoon press conference, speaking to yet another football manager. I’m proud of the hurdles I overcame working in football – as a female – but barriers may be broken, a little stigma remains but it became clear to me that their were bigger battles to fight.

Fighting stigma and discrimination became a key principle of mine. That stemmed from speaking up for individuals on social networks, working with anti-stigma organisations and then setting up my own magazine. Mental Matters has sat dormant for the past year whilst I etched out my final projects at University and took time out when I needed to look after my own mental health.

It’s hard to discuss pride because as anyone in the West of Scotland will tell you – we don’t make or take compliments very well. However, if I hadn’t made my stance to tackle the stigma and discrimination that comes with experiencing mental health problems then I would never have found myself and ultimately my purpose. It even opened Mind Waves to me.

Had I not shifted my focus, then I doubt I would have won a Mind Media award in 2013 or ended up with a first class honours degree in Journalism. I don’t mention these things to fill myself up with arrogance and self belief but because others and proud for what I stand for and hopeful for what I can achieve.

I’m proud to stand up for people. I’m proud to write articles, make videos or share stories in whatever way people feel comfortable. I’m proud that I’ve made a difference to people and I’m hopeful that I will again soon.

I’m also proud that I’ve been picked as one out of fifteen people worldwide to stand up for stigma in 2015 as part of the global alliance, and all being well will travel to America next month to take heed of advice, share my experiences and be mentored. In turn, I can put back everything I learn back into the community and share through my own mental health magazine – and that badly needs an airing again in the near future.

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6 Responses to I’m proud to speak out against stigma

  1. Pru Davies January 30, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Wow! What a wonderful piece written so eloquently by a Holly who has become a good pal of mine through meeting at various events run by See Me Scotland. I have seen her behind a camera assisting interviewing me on a few occasions. She hides her light behind a bushel. I know how talented she is and was delighted to read her news. Best wishes Holly for all that you are and for all that you do

  2. Suzanne Baines January 30, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Hi Holly

    Firstly, congratulations on your wonderful achievements to date. Furthermore, thank you for committing your time, passion and energy to create a media source which will hopefully help to increase awareness and understanding of mental health.

    I prefer to think of “stigma” as misconceptions. People generally form opinions/thoughts/strong views and actions through learned behaviour, fear or a lack of knowledge and understanding. Therefore, education is key.

    I tend to think more of it as standing beside people and encouraging their voice to be heard rather than “speaking up for individuals.” Arguably, in many cases people can speak up for themselves or just need a bit of moral support/encouragement to get the message across. The problem seems to be that those voices are not being heard by the very people who needs to start listening to understand.

    Does it have to be about “fighting” stigma? Would it be better to question such misconceptions and educate people on a personal, cultural and societal level?

    • Rosie McIntosh February 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

      Good points, I’m sure Holly would agree with you. I read this today and thought it had something to add to the conversation http://www.mindslikeours.co.uk/mental-health-stigma-point-fighting/

      • Suzanne Baines February 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

        Thank you Rosie

        I appreciate you taking the time to reply.
        It is a topic which is very important and needs to keep being discussed in order to create positive change.

        Thanks again Rosie

    • Pru Davies February 2, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      Thanks Suzanne, just read your Comment and wanted to reply as I tend to agree with what you have said. I do believe that some folk feel the need to fight against the stigma of mental ill health because of the way they and their family/friends have been treated. I have personal experience of this. However I also strongly believe that education is the key and that See Me Scotland along with other mental health organisations across the globe are raising the awareness as I do at a strategic level to enable all voices to be heard. But we must always do more.

  3. Suzanne Baines February 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Hi Pru

    Thank you for your reply.
    I also feel that people need to continually advocate for positive change in mental health. We need to strive to challenge and remove the stigma, prejudice and discrimination in relation to mental health.

    I have experienced the aforementioned on a personal and professional level. However, I have worked hard to highlight the problems and offer possible solutions, through the correct processes, at a personal, educational and professional level. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go and a larger voice is needed.

    The ‘See Me’ movement for change has done some invaluable work to improve understanding and ‘stamp out’ stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health.

    I have and am trying to do my bit to make even a miniscule difference in how mental health is taught, valued and understood. I have worked in collaboration with the college and university which I successfully achieved my HNC and degree. I have also taken part in research with the Scottish Social Services Council and the Scottish Association of Social Workers. to emphasise the need for change. Sadly, although the need is acknowledged to an extent, it sometimes feels like one voice in a crowd of people who are afraid to speak out. However, I absolutely believe that education and communication will help to improve society’s perception and understanding of mental health which will in turn improve service delivery and outcomes and decrease stigma and discrimination.

    Thanks again Pru


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