We live in an uneducated and ignorant society that has stigmatized and marginalized individuals with different intellectual abilities. Being part of the TRUST Conference community has educated us on various disorders and the history of stigma that has surrounded individuals with mental illnesses for many generations. The stigma manifested itself through verbal and physical abuse especially when people were confined in institutions. As a member of the TRUST committee and being an audience of the conference for the past two years, I have become more educated on mental and physical disorders and have learned people first language and proper etiquette when addressing individuals. By attending the conference, I have seen a positive change in the attitudes towards individuals with mental illness. It is surprising to see that a lot of students from our schools were not being educated on mental disorders and that being at the conference was their first time discussing it. That shows that some things need to change. More schools need to teach about mental illness and becoming aware of the signs and symptoms. I have met a student who said that if it were not for the conference they would not have known that they had a mental illness and is now seeking treatment for it. The conference is very powerful because it teaches us to respect individuals with mental illness and to not let their illness define who they are as a person.
Individuals with mental illnesses are human just like everyone else and deserve equality. We should not see the individual as their mental illness but as a person who is smart and talented and will make a difference in this world. The TRUST conference allows us to be part of this movement by pledging to end the “R” word and standing up to ignorant slurs. I recommend the conference to everyone, whether they are familiar with mental illness or not because the conference will definitely change your view and it urges you to want to go out in the community and teach others. We need to change society’s outlook on mental illness from looking down on individuals with a mental illness to accepting and understanding their illness.
– Bajha Jordan, Health Sciences High and Middle College, Seniors ’15