Who Will Say 'I Have a Dream' For People With Mental Illness?

On August 28,1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…that all men are created equal.” He also famously said he dreams of the day his children will not be judged “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Since then, huge steps have been made toward racial equality.

But I wonder when society will recognize that people who have mental illness are discriminated against.

Who is going to stand up and say that all people, regardless of what illness they have, will be treated humanely and without stigma or discrimination? When will the voices of people with mental illness and their advocates be heard? We, the mentally ill, often blend in with society. It’s not usually obvious that we’re “different” than anyone else.

However, what if all people who had a mental illness had to wear a purple dot on their cheek? How many employers would hire them? Who would listen to what they had to say? Would doctors dismiss their medical problems as soon as they saw the purple dot? Would friends and family turn the other way? Would people run the other way? I believe the stigma people with mental illnesses have to endure is often unbearable.

In the minds of some, our illnesses are not like having cancer or diabetes. And the consequence is that many with mental illness don’t get the help they need.

That’s why someone needs to say: “I have a dream that some day, people with mental illnesses will be viewed as people, equal to all others in society. I have a dream stigma will no longer exist and my children, if they have a mental illness, will never have to endure the pain, suffering, embarrassment and discrimination that so many people with mental illness face today. I have a dream that patients with mental illness will get the care and medications they need, will be treated humanely in psychiatric hospitals and will no longer be fired due to their mental health problems. I have a dream today.

If we fight of equality, our “purple dots” will not stop us from achieving our dreams.

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