Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ending the Stigma of Mental Health One Badge at a Time

You may have seen these stigma battling badges pop up across your social media accounts lately, but did you know where they came from and why they're available to you? We had the opportunity of speaking with Kat the creator of End the Stigma Badges and her admin team. All of whom live with many different mental & physical illnesses. They joined Kat in this journey to combat the stigma for all of us living with mental health struggles. When we use our individual voices together the volume goes way up! Which has been made abundantly clear by Kat's wonderful work on ETSBadges.

Kat is a 28yr old mother and student. Who has struggled with mental illness for much of her life. At age 19 she was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with traits of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) After the birth of her child she began experiencing severe anxiety that stemmed from Postpartum Anxiety.
Kat, Creator of End the Stigma Badges

"When Carrie Fisher passed, I was heart-broken. Leia was my childhood hero, and Carrie's outspoken-ness about her own
struggles with Bipolar made her my adult hero as well."-Kat

Kat decided it was her turn to begin speaking out about her own experiences and the stigmatization people within the mental health community experience. Working towards being a mental health advocate her original post took off in a major way. On January 3rd of this year, on her End The Stigma Badges Facebook page she states, "I never imagined that my small post on Facebook would grow by thousands." I imagine you hadn't, but Kat, we're all here standing beside you saying thank you for allowing us this connection! Bringing hope to those who can't yet use their own voices, sharing your personal journeys and experiences is helping people in a major way.

"You are all strong and you are all brave. Thank you for being a part of #Endingthestigma." -Kat

With the rapid and unexpected growth Kat's movement experienced she went to her followers for help on her admin team! She even had people reaching out to her because of the profound impact of her initial post and page. A current group of 15 individuals across the world all living with their own Mental Illnesses. They've come together for themselves, each other, and all of us who struggle through our daily lives. These gross misunderstandings and stigmas we all face each and every day need positive loud voices countering them. The ETSBadges team is working towards this common goal. They're out on the forefront talking and sharing their stories. What is an immensely private thing in life, they share openly and onward for everyone struggling to find hope, help and their own voice.

When Jasmine (Jazz) first encountered the badges on social media, she was compelled to share them with her friends. She's been working for nearly 3yrs. to share her story on her blog in an attempt to help educate people on her own experiences. The badges were a natural extension on this journey for her. She felt compelled to reach out to Kat inquiring about her movement's Twitter page. Finding their wasn't one yet a friendship of support focusing on the cause together the End the Stigma Badges Twitter page was born. She's spent years advocating mental health within her circle of family and friends.

"Joining the page is a way for me to contribute what I have learned about myself and continue to end stigmas outside my immediate circle." -Jazz

Christina's is one of ups and downs but ultimately a strong recovering mother. When finding out she was pregnant with her son she was weaned off her psychiatric medication, being an expectant mother, she put her child above all else. She first saw ETSBadges on Instagram and reached out to Kat asking if there was any assistances needed because this cause resonated with her in a major way. The rest is history and she's loving it!

"I did what I had to do." -Christina

"It's so rare to see positivity regarding such wide range of disorders." -Gemma

Gemma was brimming with excitement and consideration for all this project could mean; she knew she had to become a part of this movement.  Even within the mental health community stigma is ever present regarding many disorders, but these badges are bringing people together. Gemma is an admin based in the UK, talk about reach! She hopes to continue brining people together to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. Her personal experiences, several suicide attempts, abuse in childhood and then being removed from this environment, as well as, having her own daughter removed from her care has all contributed to her strength and desire to continue fighting the stigma around those living with Mental Illnesses. Several different medications, all manner of therapy options tried she's reached a point in her life where she's accepting her disorders and working towards her normal.

When myself and my parts first saw a friend sharing the End the Stigma Badges on social media we had to stop. Collect our thoughts and then continue onto the page. This seemed like it took a while to me but it was milliseconds before we were on the page scrolling. Finding a massive amount of information we scrolled and read. The information and stories being shared were bringing people together by the 1,000's! With the rapid growth they're already expanding to other languages, including invisible illnesses and neurodiversity into the mix. This is exciting stuff people!

I encourage you to go visit their social media pages and create your own collage and wear your own badge of Mental Health Honor! If you're nervous about sharing reach out, they're here and they are most definitely a tight supportive group. They're listening and reading your comments and messages. A very amazing thing, especially in the world of apps and tech we all live. Supportive people supporting each other through social media. Sharing their stories and collective voices in the name of ending the stigma surrounding mental health. I tip my hat to all of you wonderful people, near and far of all ages. Together we are strong.

Obviously we needed an ETSB too! Jynx is pictured here.
Thank you for sharing yourselves with us and the world!

Karly reached out directly to Kat in the hopes that maybe she would consider creating a badge for her. She was pleasantly surprised by Kat's kindness and receiving her badge that day. She shortly joined the team to work with Kat in ending the stigma of not only mental health but all illnesses now being stigmatized. She talks about how wonderful everyone is. The support they all share for the people following ETSB's but as well as, their support of each other. They're very much like a family and have their own little chats in their, "After-hours break room." I mean, come on, how cool is that?

"The Biggest Struggle for me is that All of my Illnesses are Invisible." -Karly

"I have an Eating Disorder" #EndTheStigma #YouAreNotAlone
"I Have Chronic Depression"#EndTheStigma #YouAreNotAlone
 Have we mentioned how fantastic it is the badges are now bilingual? ¡Ahora están también en Español!   
Sara, an author and Educator from South America. "You're not alone."
18yr old Fangirl & Comment Moderator for ETSB!

Kevin- "I'm tired of people saying get over it. Through helping others I'm beginning to help myself."
Tiana, 19yr old mother, she wants you to know, "It does get better!"

"I wanted to join Kat because she started something amazing! I wanted to help spread awareness about physical illnesses but especially invisible illnesses." -Amy
Mary Catherine, student, stigma fighter, awareness guru of Sexual Assault and rape survivor!

Lia- "Help me break the stigma of panic disorders." They are not seeking attention!

Mia 25yr old Momma of 4, her healing & growth is being open &honest about her MH.
"I actually cried a little bit [when first seeing the ETSBadges] to be honest, psychosis is so heavily stigmatized." -Troy

Troy, transgender & currently in transition! CSA survivor, stigma fighter and doing fantastic now!
"I hope that with this project we can give others the courage to speak out about their own struggles; and with more awareness and advocacy, hopefully decrease the stigma surrounding mental illnesses." -Troy

43yr old Mother, Blogger, Autistic and Stigma Fighter!

"I want people to be brave and inspired enough to talk openly with anyone." -Kat

Thank you to the End the Stigma Badges team and their fabulous creator and organizer, Kat!

Contact email:


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