George, at Asda, sells Halloween costumes. They sell the usual zombies, witches, vampires, pumpkins, and then one costume that has sparked an uproar; the mental patient costume. Complete with meat cleaver, what looks like a doctors coat (did the mental patient kill a doctor to get that?) and fake blood, this is one Halloween costume guaranteed to shock.
How would you react if someone told you they were HIV positive? Would you treat them the same as any other person? Would you still hug them without thinking twice? Would you take a sip from their glass of Coke? It sounds harsh, but unfortunately a negative stigma has developed around HIV that causes many people to react with fear towards anyone who tests positive.
Weight stigma appears to be the last socially acceptable form of prejudice and discrimination, and many people engage in behaviours towards fat people that most societies and individuals would deem abhorrent if directed towards other groups, for example, people of colour or certain sexual orientation.
After talking with a fellow agoraphobic (James) on Twitter, we came up with an idea that would push this awareness even further. What if everyone could have their stories heard and shared? What if they could all receive that positivity? We wanted to create a Diaries of a Broken Mind style campaign but on a much grander scale.
Despite being the poster nation for sexual equality, Sweden's laws on sex work and attitudes towards it are woefully patriarchal. The purchase of sex is illegal and the prevailing view is that sex work is a form of self-harm and women who choose to work in the sex industry are victims without agency or reason.
The most common question people ask about depression is 'How do you know the difference between depression and just feeling sad?'. What marks me and all the others who suffer from depression out from people who are just down in the dumps, feeling the weight of the world or having a bit of a crap day? It's an interesting question, not least because it's one that doctors have to deal with on a daily basis.
Whenever headlines such as 'Cure for HIV' appear in the press, they have a few unintended secondary effects: the general populace takes them as a sign that HIV is over, and that there is no longer a problem, despite the fact that charities such as ours know very well that there is much work to be done.
A few days back, I published a piece right here titled: What's in a Word, and Who is the Addict? I really only dealt with the first part of the question: semantic pros and cons pertaining to word usage. This time, I wish the address the second question - a far more difficult question than the first.
So I use the term 'addict' to describe a certain type of person. Many object to this designation. For one, there is stigma attached to it. Practically everyone you know has been carried away at some point by some poison - exercise, love, sex, gambling, tobacco, coffee, food, booze, dope, work - some object that everyone is (or has been) an addict. Hence, according to some, the label is meaningless.
When a 14 year old Irish girl was raped and became pregnant in 1992, nobody knew that the shockwaves would still be rippling 20 years later. This week, the 'Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill' is navigating the Irish Parliament. If successful, abortion, where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, may soon be legalised in Ireland.
The feeling that I can't shake is that she has been alienated by feminism and the stigma that surrounds it. I am happy to admit to being a feminist, because I have my own personal interpretation of its meaning. Obviously feminism stands for the freedom to choose, and choosing to be one should be included in that.
A person suffering from a chronic disease or some form of disability, needs intimacy with their spouse or partner as much as anyone else. Being intimate brings a closeness to a couple and is a necessary part of a healthy relationship. Many patients, too embarrassed to talk about these matters, can end up suffering from a lack of affection and tenderness which is essential to us all.
In all the coverage following Margaret Thatcher's death, very few headlines have been made by the fact that she had dementia. Many refer to her 'failing health' and 'deterioration', and report the stroke that caused her passing, but it seems that mentioning the word dementia when you are talking about a former prime minister is rather taboo.
The charities hope that the awareness campaign will get people talking and help to reduce the stigma attached to self-harming which prevents many young people from seeking help. You can follow the campaign on Twitter via #selfharm and find out more about the campaign on each of the charities websites.
We've come a long way in the fight to tackle HIV in developing countries - UK aid is helping to prevent 500,000 new HIV infections by 2015 in women through a range of prevention programmes. But there's still the hurdle of reaching people who are marginalised from the services they need and most at risk of infection.