Break the Mend By Breaking The Stigma Essay

Submitted By bdelacru
Words: 1185
Pages: 5

Mend the mind by breaking the stigma

For my Participatory Learning Assignment, I chose to volunteer at the Union Gospel Mission, which was located in the Eastside location of downtown, along side two of my friends who were also in the same health science class as I was. I chose to volunteer here mainly because I wanted to experience firsthand how it was like to volunteer in a soup kitchen, especially in a particular area like this, as I have never done it before. I had also wanted to be a part of an organization where I could be part in helping the many people who come in there, lost for and broken, and get them back to where they need to be. After my friend, Jessica, applied for myself and Nicole, the other lady who attended with us, the main coordinator, Su Mari, accepted our request and gave us the heads up to volunteer at this organization on October 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Upon arrival, we where introduced to the head executive chef of the kitchen named Tom, who became our manager for the whole shift. He toured us around the area, and he even showed us all of the food, which where mostly donated from local businesses, being stored in the large freezer rooms that they had. He gave us the organization’s main mission, which was to transform the community by overcoming poverty, homeless and addiction one life at a time. He had also provided us with statistics of how many people where being helped on a day to day basis, and he also told us about the different life recovery programs that they offer to those in need which I found really neat. After the tour, the majority of our shift was spent cleaning the cupboards of the kitchen, and serving food as soon the dinner service rolled in. Before entering the volunteer work place, I initially had a personal stigma that all of the people, who end up on the streets, have a certain substance abuse problem. This class however taught me that they are there because they have a mental illness and that their problems are much deeper than what you see on the outside. As I am an outgoing person, I knew that my strengths going into this soup kitchen would be my interpersonal skills, engaging in conversation, and even going up to people who I do not know and introducing myself. As soon as I walked in the gospel mission, I became the complete opposite; I became more of this shy person probably because I had entered an environment that I was not used to. Since I knew that this was going to be the case for me, I really wanted to use this opportunity to change my own personal stigma so I would have the chance to share my experience with others, especially my parents, who feared for me volunteering at this location. However, as soon as I became comfortable with the environment that I was in, I had the ability to get the perspectives of many of the staff, as well as even some of the homeless people that where present which definitely helped change my stigma. In relation to the class material, I learned that there are so many ways that can cause a person to be homeless in the street. When a person is seen living on the streets, the majority of the public immediately think or believe that they ended up where they are due to substance abuse. However, it is important for the general public to understand that there are other factors that contribute to this, whether it may be structural or even individual factors. This class most importantly has taught me that homelessness is strictly not from addiction and can be due to the lack of affordable housing, disability, domestic violence, job loss, lack of family and social support, a change in the economy leading to unemployment, or even deinstitutionalization of patients in health care homes. Stigma still surrounds mental illness to this day because it’s invisible, and that mental illness is often evident through behavior. When homeless people are seen in the streets, stigmatizing language like