Controlling Anxiety - Opinion Piece

**Opinion Piece**

Joe Williams - The Enemy Within

Joe Williams - The Enemy Within

As a First Nation Wiradjuri man from

Australia - I've learnt the major value our old people benefited from was having no EGO.

Ego is the root of many evils & the more I've looked into & the more I've learnt about our old people, is that by living with minimal to zero ego played a big factor in why there was no thing such as Anxiety.

Anxiety is triggered by thoughts - thoughts about the future; not necessarily deep into the future but many occasions the direct & immediate future.

See, our old people (ancestors) lived with purpose. I can hear everyone saying 'well I live with purpose too' but do you Really?? Our old people lived by tasks, from day to day, often hour by hour, moment by moment, there was no concept of time; so they just got on with the task at hand - and they did this by living present.

If the family was hungry, they caught food. If they didn't collect food - the family went hungry or food was shared between families. If it rained, you get shelter & if it were cold you build a fire.

There was an expectation that all was shared, so there was never a 'what if/futuristic' thought put into the mind which causes Anxiety. 'What if I don't catch some food, my family will go hungry, if they're hungry my family will starve, if they starve they will die, if they die I'll be classed as someone who can't feed their family, if I can't feed my family I'm not classed a man, if I'm not classed a man, I am shamed and outcasted, if I'm shamed then I won't be excepted etc etc etc

These thoughts are all powered by EGO. Ego is the thing that spirals our mind. To a point, where it gets out of your control. The experts call this an Anxiety or panic attack.

Whether you think you have ego or not, you actually DO - it's just a matter of how much you have...

When your ego is smashed or you feel let down - you reflect. Right in that REFLECTION MOMENT you have a choice; dwell on the past situation, which triggers depression; or spiral over the 'what ifs' by looking into the future; or you can stay present and work forward by learning how and why you got there in the first place.

Every single decision in life we make, is yr responsibility. We may have instances where certain actions cause us hurt - but again, we have a decision to make whether to dwell on that situation or learn from it and move forward.

Again our ego plays a significant role in how we respond. We can, show compassion learn & GROW as an individual or we can get stuck, dwell on the NEGATIVE and let your ego get in the way of healing..

I believe - if you live with little to no ego you will see drastic changes in your anxiety levels bought on by opinions.

Worrying about opinions of others is a huge contributor to anxiety attacks - by letting go of ego, this will minimise also..

As many of you know, I am not a practitioner, or professional in this field. I am an advocate and sportsperson - but it's worked with me and many of those who reach out to me to help with anxiety levels. I was someone who struggled with intense anxiety, but with hard work I now live with it, and manage it. 

Why wouldn't you try...

Culture keeps me strong 👣 

Culture keeps me strong 👣 

Racism; Is yours, mine & all of our business

With many communities around the country recently celebrating NAIDOC week we hear so many positives, that one would be in climbed to think that the country we are all so proud to call home; is moving forward together harmoniously.

I would like to shine some light on 2 particular incidents that was bought to my attention in the midst of NAIDOC week



One, where a First Nations woman was laughed at & mimicked during a particular welcome to country & traditional dance performance. Laughed at & ridiculed to the point where she was reduced to tears & felt so uncomfortable she had to leave the venue.

The event was one held by NSW Tafe, however I must make clear that the people alleged to be involved in the racial remarks were in attendance as part of the audience & were NOT actual workers within Tafe system - The other, was again a First Nations woman who was laughed at & turned away by her boss because she wanted her work place to celebrate NAIDOC week; a work place that is a Childcare centre which has First Nations Aboriginal young people in attendance & also as part of the staff. The staff member was told, if you would like to celebrate it, you organise it - with little to no support from the Non indigenous executive & staff & whilst expected to carry out her regular duties as per normal .

Here we have just two examples in two vastly different locations, where we see our people confronted head on with racism. We see one example where a young lady was traumatised so severely that I personally received a phone call at 1am crying in hysterics because she was so upset of the way she was treated during the discriminative ordeal.

Both examples a sign that we have much further to go on the road to a quality.

The young man who made such comments isn't the only guilty one when talking the terms of bigotry & discrimination. The man in question was surrounded by a small group of friends who both giggled & smirked at the comments. It is in my view that those friends who not only smirked or found it funny are just as much to blame as the perpetrator of the racism & discrimination, for they had ample opportunity to step in & put a stop to such behaviour. We can't put a stop to racism by only having people of colour speak out about it. Racism is everybody's business.

I feel the second example has a much broader effect!

The Childcare centre who chose not to support there staff by celebrating NAIDOC week could have have a much greater role in the national reconciliation process. By celebrating NAIDOC week they intern are supporting there staff, supporting there First Nations students & educating the broader community of non indigenous people about the hard times of the past, present & the richness & depth of aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander culture; the longest living continuous race on the planet. A chance to highlight to the Non Indigenous students how special our culture really is.

In final, I'd like to thank the many 10's of thousands of people of all race across the country who celebrated & are learning with us during NAIDOC week; but these two examples are just two are many we see everyday in our communities. We must continue our fight together, both First Nations & non indigenous to build a brighter future for our generations to come.



Culture - More than just a word

During NAIDOC week I documented how many times I read or heard the word culture, when referring to the nations week of celebrating Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.

143 times I either heard the word spoken, written, and even sung. It bought me to think - the word is so often spoken about, do people know the true essence of what our culture is, who it belongs to, do people really understand it or to many is it... Just a word.


I have been a First Nations Aboriginal man for 32 years, since the minute I was born to this earth. I never shirked away from it and always known and proud to be part of the longest living continual race on earth. A race that has been around for over 60,000 years (man dated) - but to us, we know through our creation stories, since the beginning of time.

It has been in the past 3 years that I have really connected both emotionally & spiritually, that made the penny drop to what that 'feeling' is where our mob get together & connect to culture.

I often hear kids talk about how proud they are to have their culture in their life, which is fantastic - but what is it & what does it mean to you? Can a 7 year old and or a Non Indigenous person describe in depth what our culture is?

Dance is a significant part of story telling for our people

Dance is a significant part of story telling for our people

I see and mentor many youth on a daily basis and we talk of what it means to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. I hear, we are deadly at sport, we wear ochre & can dance (traditional & contemporary), we got dark skin, we might know a few words of our native languages that have been lost over time - & we have our culture.

Until my adult years, I always knew being Aboriginal was special, but in all honesty I thought being Aboriginal was many of those things mentioned above.

I spent time in remote Northern Territory, central desert Aboriginal communities, where I saw children taught since birth their tribal language and taught our ancient Lore. The mother of my 2 eldest children Brodi & Phoenix is from Northern Territory and her family is traditional owners in Larrikia country and have great cultural understanding - I was envious, so I begun searching for our ways back home, Wiradjuri country.

Traditional world

Traditional world

It wasn't until my mid 20s did I begin to delve deeper into what it is, what it means, & why I feel that special feeling we have, we call connection.

I would go on weekly trips out bush, sit around a fire & listen to older uncles tell me many stories, that in turn teach us our lessons in life. I have grown not only culturally as a person, but also as a man who proudly walks in 2 worlds. Traditionally with the importance of going bush, connecting spiritually to the old people, learning lessons from elders, sharing with our youth and connecting to country and or Mother Earth; and regularly partaking in trading cultural practices & ceremonies - to the modern western world - meeting and delivering to corporate entities, to adapting to the use of technology.

Walking in 2 worlds  

Walking in 2 worlds  

For me personally, both worlds are just as important as the other, as we continue to learn to integrate our cultural lessons into a modern society and bringing all corners of the divide to living harmoniously.

The corporate world

The corporate world

For those Non Indigenous people reading this, I'll try give you a comparison; my cultural journey has been one of love, humility, empathy and care - I put it on par with the birth of my children & is something I share with enormous pride.

The above statement gives you an indication of the enormity I consider my journey.

For my fellow First Nation brothers & sisters; if you have it & know it, I'm sure you will agree with my comments - if you don't, I urge you to seek it, learn it & live it.

I believe culture & Lore is the answer to many problems is our communities with alcohol & drug abuse, domestic violence, mental health & suicides.

Our traditional old people didn't have those problems that are burdening our communities.


I urge you to find our culture & in the words of Uncle Paul Gordon;


'Listen, Learn, Love, Live, Lore & Lead'


Yindyamangidyal Marrumbang

Respect, Love & Kindness - Wiradjuri 👣

Being A Role Model - My Journey

Sitting on the plane I find myself writing another blog; something about writing that is therapeutic for me - I used to hate it at school, now I jump at the bit to write my feelings down or about an event I am presenting to.

Today I am off to Newcastle for the Nation of Origin Rugby League carnival here I am the ambassador.

In processing my thoughts, I am proud to wear the tag 'Ambassador' for this event as it sees youth from right across the state representing their Aboriginal Nations ie like mine Wiradjuri.

I am proud because my journey could well have been so different.

During my early NRL playing days, I developed quite a heavy addiction with Alcoholic binge drinking and recreational drug use & prescription drug abuse.

It is coming up to the point that I have been 11 years clean and free from alcohol and drugs; so it is with enormous pride I walk with when asked to be an ambassador.

I wasn't chosen as an ambassador for a carnival for a police citizens youth club (PCYC) carnival because I gave away alcohol and drugs, I was chosen because I am seen as a mentor and someone who kids can look up to because of my path and some things I have achieved.

There are many other Aboriginal men out there who have played many more games than me in the NRL and won many more boxing fights but it is the hours, days & weeks I commit myself to mentoring youth that puts me in line to be seen as a positive person. I know 100%, there is no way on earth that I would be spending the time that I do helping youth and adults to become better people - because during my days of alcoholism and and substance abuse, my life consisted of lies, late nights and a struggle to help myself to be positive person! So how on earth could I be a role model for anyone else...

My days of living a clean and sober life I have learnt and uncovered many things about myself - I have gotten to know the real me. A man I am proud to say that kids can look up to about living a positive life of helping others.

I am looking forward to interacting with some talented kids from right across NSW, each representing their native areas of origin.

In reflection I'll share some great advice I received from my sponsor (mentor) when I first walked into AA. He told me;

'It doesn't matter if you are an NRL player, a pilot, a cab driver or a toilet cleaner, you are going to be better at whatever you do if you give away the drink'

When I was drinking and taking drugs 11yrs ago I wasn't someone people would inspire to be;

Today, I'm not perfect, but I am a mentor, an ambassador, a leader & a role model for many young people - all because I choose to live alcohol & drug free. My life has improved beyond comparison and my sponsors words were correct.


If I can do it - so can you


Hope Helps Heal 2

Another #HopeHelpsHeal tour complete. A month flashed by like a blink of an eye with many good memories but most importantly got to deliver my story of resilience and survival & spread messages of hope to many people experiencing similar circumstance.


This trip I was lucky enough to tick off many adventures of my life 'to do' list. I proudly flew our 1st Nations Aboriginal flag in front of the White House; arguably one of the most influential and recognised buildings through out the world. I got to hold a baby alligator from the swamps of New Orleans and listen to the sweet sounds of Jazz & Blues in various clubs & bars in the Deep South.

It was in San Francisco I had the honour or sharing stories with my Native American brothers & sisters. Our cultures are so similar in our care for Mother Earth and our cultural belief systems.

The city of San Francisco is the reason I am writing this blog. It is some 15 years ago, my close friend and suicide mental health advocate Kevin Hines (@kevinhinesstory) attempted to take his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Against all odds Kevin survived that jump and it is through his upcoming documentary, Suicide The Ripple Effect we met and I have since had the wonderful opportunity of touring with Kevin around the USA - so in walking onto the Golden Gate Bridge, I had a great sense of emotion. It has been over 2000 people that have died off that bridge, but I also sense of gratitude that my good friend and now call a brother Kevin Hines survived.


Again this trip, it wasn't only the people Kevin & I delivered our wellness sessions in front of, but the people we ran into and sparked conversation by circumstance that had most impact and showed the the ripple effect of suicide. Lauren & I got talking to a lady who was our Uber driver, who lost a close family member to suicide. That suicide in turn directed that lady into care for others and she worked for many years as a pastor, helping people through the word of the gospel.

Growing up a proud First Nations man, I have heard many times the story of the great Martin Luther King (MLK). It is in the city of Atlanta, we call our home base in the USA - the MLK museum, the house & street where MLK grew up, & the Ebenezer baptist church where MLK took up his role as a pastor.

The King Household  

The King Household  

I got to sit on the same steps MLK sat as a kid, see his bedroom, feel the gospel spirit inside the Ebenezer baptist church, and finally sit close by to the great mans final resting place, the tomb in which he was buried.

It is in MLK I thank, for standing up for the equal rights for people of colour he taught people like me there is such things as non violent protests through means such as intelligence.

Nashville, Tennessee  

Nashville, Tennessee  

My love for music as a young man made it all the more special to visit cities of New Orleans & Nashville. Both varying genres of music but the music of Blues, Jazz, Soul & Country is the types of music I grew up listening to as a kid and even more so now as an adult - music with meaning & songs with a story. Being in Nashville & New Orleans took me back to my childhood or growing up wanting to be a blues singer and entertainer & was also lucky enough to catch a gig at the renowned Reservation Hall - bands suck as foo fighters have shot music film clips at RH.


In NashvilleI got to visit the Johnny Cash Museum. Cash' music made even more famous to the younger generation through the film 'Walk The Line' sharing history of J.R Cash & his beloved wife June Carter Cash.

The Country Music hall of fame was simply spectacular, seeing memorabilia from artists made famous by their brilliant music, to many to name.

Back home safely on Australian soil although there no rest for the wicked - straight off the plane to deliver at a your leadership conference.

I got to spend the a much needed night with my beautiful 2 eldest children Brodi & Phoenix with dinner, chills and laughs in Sydney.


I am currently on route to Melbourne to hang out at a local NAIDOC community day chatting and sharing with local Aboriginal & Torres Straight Island mob. Then tomorrow - finally home to Wiradjuri country to the rest of my family; Fiancé Courtney, and 2 boys Rome & Ari - can't wait to take my shoes off & feel the soil of Mother Earth and Wiradjuri between my toes.


Living with constant Suicidal Ideation - My daily battle

I thought it would be important to share some of the rawness of the thought patterns I encounter whilst in a moment of depression.

I went from a moment of serious depressive and suicidal thoughts to levelled functional thinking, all within a matter of hours. I am also hopeful the studies within the CTE field continue to learn more about the illness.

**warning, reading is a little raw and after a few hours was considering not posting, but realised it was important to show people that follow my journey - 'It ain't all sunshine & rainbows' but equally wanted people to know, those moments don't last forever and with persistence and mindfulness, you too can climb your way out of the depths**



"Have you seen the movie titled concussion, with award winning actor Will Smith? Smith plays an African Forensic Pathologist who studies the brain & impacts on concussions.

The doctor studies and discovers an illness he calls Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)


CTE is bought on by repeated brain trauma (TBI - Traumatic Brain Injuries) over an extended period of time, with with repeated mild to severe concussions.

Although 'Concussion' is just a movie, if you read the above link to studies, you will notice, as I certainly have, the commonalities I have with professional sports that I have played for some 15 years. Although CTE is diagnosed post death, there have been pre death diagnosed athletes, notably NFL & combat sports athletes (MMA & Boxing) in the USA.

During the past 2 years I have noticed a considerable increase in the symptoms of CTE in my life - most notably, depression and suicidal ideation.

At the age of 32, this scares the hell out of me. Knowing the symptoms and the road CTE could eventually lead to, makes me all the more concerned.

The most important thing for me right at this present moment is to continue to raise the awareness and help others on how to live a functioning life with mental illness. By delivering Enemy Within sessions across the globe enables me to do this, and in turn help myself stay well.

Right now, I am sitting, waiting for my weather delayed flight to be called in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Whilst writing this piece I am in deep thought, experiencing extreme paranoia, deep depression, and having suicidal thoughts.

Although knowing the concussion film is only a movie, the mind can't help but wonder into the 'what ifs' - what if I end up like a scenes from the concussion movie - retired sportsman, living out've my car, ending in my eventual death and even suicide.

I have promised myself and my loved ones, that I will never die by my own hands - but as I have discussed many times during my Enemy Within Suicide Prevention workshops; I live with constant negative & suicidal thoughts almost on a daily basis, it is often a huge struggle to forge through the day. But the fighter in me, won't let it beat me.

As hard as it is, it is part of my wellness plan to write when I am feeling as such as writing helps me to eventually feel better.

I am now sitting on the airport runway in a tiny plane, rain and wind outside,again with the negativity bellowing at me with my thoughts. Each breath I know that these thoughts aren't a reality, I grip my hands and breathe in slowly with another one of my coping mechanisms 4, 7, 8 - inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds & exhale for 8 seconds.. By doing this, lowers your heart rate & brings you to present.

I guess if you are reading this, we landed safely, the mind settled & I'm back in the fight once more.

Every single Day, I make that choice, to fight the battle against an enemy that in embedded deep within each thought; thought that continues to tell me I'm no longer worthy to exist on earth - that everyone around me would be in a better place with me not being alive.


I'll continue to fight...

It Battle Me; It Won't Beat Me"




Tomorrow is a new day...



Ben Cousins - the guy needs help before it sadly ends

In the USA some people may not have heard of an Australian sportsperson called Ben Cousins; but in Australia the former Australian Rules (AFL) star is becoming well known for his off field antics rather than his ability to bring crowds of thousands to their feet with his dazzling footballing and athletic abilities.  

Ben cousins in action for the West Coast Eagles

Ben cousins in action for the West Coast Eagles

For almost 10 years now, we have read newspaper articals of Cousins' misdemeanours away from the sporting arena with many saying 'oh not again' - the disappointing thing I read amongst many social media updates is 'what a legend' 'this guy knows how to party' 'wish I could party like him' etc ect - the sad thing is that while this former elite athlete, former role model to thousands across the country appears to be struggling with some serious mental illness & addiction problems. 


During my work in USA it has been commonly talked about having substance abuser disorder is commonly treated as a mental illness. Addiction is set off by a chemical imbalance within the brain which causes the individual to crave such substances as alcohol & drugs; baring this in mind, we see Ben Cousins in the media once again appearing to be disorientated in the middle of a highway, and later taken to hospital.


In reading media articals of Ben Cousins I don't see a one off case of a guy having one too many drinks - I see a man who is struggling with some inner demons of his own. 

A repeat offender, with that appears to have serious addiction problems.


I fear this former sports star and Australian icons demise will soon come to an abrupt holt, with possible serious repercussions, with someone being seriously hurt or Cousins or a bystander ending up dead. 

That is the harsh reality of addiction disorders, many times we see the individual not treated or recognised before it becomes to late.  

Ben Cousins deserves to be applauded for his athletic abilities in which he worked tirelessly to achieve; sadly I see it as a possibility and eventual reality, many mourning the death of a one time idol who has gone through many years battling demons & addictions....

I pose you this question; substance abuse disorder (addictions) are a co-morbidity with mental illness; would we see an individual with schizophrenia, going out having a party for days, stopping traffic on a highway and taken  to hospital - hailed as a 'top bloke' for having  good time? Or would public perception demand that he be treated for his illness? 




Muhammad Ali - RIP GOAT

Muhammad Ali - RIP GOAT

On touching down in the USA a couple weeks ago, I was greeted with the very sad news of the passing of who many believe, myself included - the Greatest Of all Time (GOAT) American boxing superstar and civil rights hero Muhammad Ali.


In the last week or so, the GOAT was laid to rest in his final resting place. Many hall of fame boxers and Hollywood A listers were in attendance with his Pall bearers man like Mile Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Will Smith - to name a few.

I searched for many days trying to find footage of the eulogy tribute from comedian Billy Crystal. In finding the tribute from Crystal, you felt a sense of gratefulness to have witnessed footage of such a beautiful man in Ali.

In paying tribute to Ali, I think about many great moments in the history of boxing, such as the brutal fights between Ali & Frazier, Ali & Foreman - but also comes to mind a recent conversation I had with my great friend Kevin Hines; who told me a story taught by his father about the infamous tale around Sonny Liston 'laying down' in his bout with Ali.

Mr Hines (Patrick) told his boy Kevin, who was going through some particular hard times in his life at the time, 'when faced with tough times in your life, you can be one of two people - Ali or Sonny Liston - in reference to Ali, was to stand & fight; or lie down and & be defeated - not defeated by Ali, but by his own inner demons; his enemy within. In finishing Mr Hines gave a small statue to his boy & said the words; 'Kevin you are in 2ft of water & you are drowning, all you must do is stand'.

To this day, Kevin still proudly displays the wooden ornament amongst his most prized awards & possessions.

It is quite clear that Ali impacted on Kevin, from a young age until this present day.

The reflection of Kevin's story, took me back immediately to the very reason I love being inside the four walls of a boxing gym. Not only did boxing teach me how to hold my hands up ok, it taught me how to win against the inner demons that plague my mind every single day.

It is within these walls of a boxing gym do I get a sense of strength, which holds me in good stead for the outside world.

In tribute to Ali I acknowledge not only the superior athleticism to most boxers of his age, he was revolutionary in ability to make a man miss the target with his coordination, hand-eye speed & footwork.

It was Ali's well documented deflection from the US military when he refused to go to war & his resilience to remain to his word is one of the main reasons I see this man as a hero - a hero in sports & a hero for humanity.

In refusing to go war, Ali stayed true to his morals by saying - he will not go to war to kill a man, and noted, other people of colour whom he had no disagreements with.


Ali, a humanitarian hero, paved the way for many to stand up and be true to their morals, not just because he was a sporting icon around the world - but because he was just a man who remained strong to his moral belief and not let the rest of society sway his decisions.


Their is something in this for all of us!


Liston decided to lie down in the 3 feet of water and lose his battle; Ali chose to not only stand, but he chose to fight, win & lead many millions of people throughout the world on s path to peace.


Rest Easy - GOAT

Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali


Anxiety - How to control it..

What if I told you it is possible to rid your anxiety jus let by  training yourself to change your thought patterns.

Many people around the world struggle on a daily basis with anxiety; the mind races, begins to spiral and for many can lead them to a crippling anxiety attack.

For many years, I was one of those people - and through careful management, I have learnt to control my thought process so it doesn't get to the point of spiralling outve control, leaving me breathless and at times unable to function.


Are you one of these people??


What if I shared with you the simplest of tips & with hard work, because it is hard - you could keep your anxiety to a minimal level - you would try it right???

It came with a conversation with my Dad did the penny drop. My father told me, there is no such thing as the future - only the past, and the present. Living in the present is key.

By meaning there is no such thing as the future, he meant that - anything we think about in the future, is only that; a thought!!

Anxiety is heightened by extreme thoughts about the future - think about a time you have had an anxiety attack...

I tend not to call it anxiety - I call it a case of the 'what ifs'. Anxiety spirals when you have severe thoughts about the 'what ifs' - what if this happens, what if that happens, what if I don't get the job, what if my child dies, what if I die.. The 'what ifs' get so severe that you are all but convinced of the negative outcome.

It is when we are in this critical time of thinking are we engulfed by an Anxiety attack.

The truth is - we have no control of the outcomes of the situation in the future, only situations of the present.

The key is to get in control of your present, by doing something physical,  in reality, rather than in your thoughts or your mind. Mindfulness tips such as rubbing your thumb and index finger together, fast or slow, hard or soft - thins physical action enables your mind to think present and concentrate on the task at hand. Feel the grooves in your fingerprint, the heat it is generating by the constant friction of rubbing together.

Another is sit or stand in quiet and be mindful of your body parts on yr body; your feet touching the souls of your shoe, you feet covered in the warmth of your socks, if you are seated, what part of your body is touching the chair, all while slowing your breathing, to the point you can actually hear your self breathe. A good one to use with breathe work is a technique my good friend Kevin Hines taught me; 4-7-8 inhale 4 seconds hold 7 seconds & exhale 8 seconds - this enables  the body to relax, lower your heart rate &

blood pressure; or you can combine two techniques, physical mindfulness and the counting of breathing.

The mindfulness and breathing brings you back to paying attention to how your body is feeling, your breathing & it brings you back to present.

By learning to live present will enable you to build on your mental strength and not get lost in the 'what ifs'

Another thing is - anxiety is majority heightened by negative thoughts, which leads to the spiral. Learn to back your negative up with a positive action. How you do that is through gratefulness. Whenever you have a negative thought - I get engulfed by them every day; constant negative & suicidal ideation - but I learn to listen to my breath, by listening to my breath gives me a Sense of gratitude to be alive and share my message everyday.

The keys are living present & acknowledging you have no control over the future, only what you are doing in this exact present moment




Why Is Mental Illness Seen As Negative

Why is it that when we hear of a violent crime - people think the perpetrators have Mental illness?

When our sports stars commit a crime or a negative behaviour - we blame mental illness

When we see or hear of mental health facility we think - the people inside are 'locked away' & are insane, nuts, crazy

Many people often hide Mental health & substance abuse problems - substance use disorder problems, because having these illnesses - we are blamed for..

Media can have a hugely positive effect on public perception when it comes to mental illness, We hear many media reports; in particular negative stories around mental health.

I am an individual who battles day in & day out with depression, constant negative & suicidal thoughts on a daily basis & have been quite open about my struggles with Mental Illness - I am someone who lives and breathes a positive lifestyle, helps many people in times of crisis and often described as someone who is inspirational to certain people in times of need. One would say I am a positive person...

Yet a person who struggles with a mental illness is often described, judged & talked about in a negative manner.

We hear words such as STIGMA used when the topic of mental illness comes up, we also should use the word DISCRIMINATION. Not in the terms of race or skin colour, but many brothers & sisters who live and battle their inner demon are discriminated against because of an illness they suffer from. We don't see people discriminated against when they have heart disease, or cancer - because they are physical illnesses, yet we put down, talk negatively & often discriminate against who have mental illness.

In my work in the USA, I have learnt more about the term substance use disorder; or in layman's terms, alcoholic or drug addict.

We discriminate against those who have substance use disorder, or a person who drinks too much or takes drugs - we also lock them up, often with little to no rehabilitation...

Would we ignore, a physical illness, or lock someone away for liver, heart or lung disease??? Definitely not in my experience, so why do we often hide, lie or mislead when it comes to mental illness???

I believe we need to look at how we perceive people with mental illness in the media and as individuals, look at the language we use when talking about or describing mental illness.

I am an individual who is lucky to have caught my addiction and alcohol abuse problems at an earlier than average age, and learnt to keep my mental health demons at bay but I ask you this...

If you answered the door to me asking for help as I wasn't feeling mentally well, and you answer the door to a homeless, alcoholic, drug addict in a bout of depression asking the same problem;

Would you treat us both with the same amount of content, safety & care & what is the difference between the two individuals???

The answer should be is YES you should treat us both the same, the only difference is - I have a home to live in & I know how to manage my mental health, the other doesn't...

The negative perception and care, is the very reason there is STIGMA & DISCRIMINATION attached to living with mental illness.