Max Silverman of Tarrytown, N.Y., is a junior with an interdisciplinary major that combines sociology, politics and education. The founder of the Bates chapter of Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to raising campus awareness of mental health and stigmatization, Silverman will devote his TED talk to this topic, underscoring the importance of understanding mental illness as biological.
Max’s brother Eli, at the age of 8, told his parents that he wanted to die. He ran away from home, he threatened his family and he started having problems at school. He felt unsafe in his own house. After many years he was finally diagnosed with bi-polar, depression and a host of other issues. They faced all of this completely alone. They had no-where to go, no one helped and no one offered any support.
Max talks about mental illness as a biological illness, a disease of the brain. It is an invisible illness and it is highly stigmatised. We do not know how to talk about mental illness. We do not want to. We characterise it, demonise it and dramatise it. We blame and we shame.
If you had a broken arm, diabetes or cancer would you go to a doctor. You would get the support that you need both medically and personally. Mental illness is not supported, not understood and it is still swept under the carpet. People with mental illness are still discriminated against.
The only way that we can break this discrimination and disapproval is to talk about it, have conversations about mental illness and take the responsibility on ourselves to understand it. We need to bring it out in to the open. It should not remain invisible. We need to be compassionate and we need to support and embrace those suffering with mental illness.