Combating Stigma through Punctuation: Project Semicolon

What does a semicolon have to do with mental health?

When it becomes a symbol for the resilience of people with mental health issues, a lot. Project Semicolon was founded as an anti-stigma and mental health awareness movement. A semicolon is “used when an author could've ended a sentence but chose not to” (Project Semicolon, 2016). In this way, it represents the experiences of those with depression, addiction, self-harm, and suicide, and solidarity with their choice to continue to live (Project Semicolon, 2016).

Although the semicolon symbol is often found as a tattoo, there are now semicolon jewelleries, decals, hoodies, shirts, and so on.

A well-known anti-stigma campaign is the Bell Let's Talk initiative, where for every text and call by Bell customers, the company donates 5 cents to mental health programs. Clara Hughes, the six-time Olympic medalist, creates a lot of buzz about this issue (Bell Let's Talk, n.d.).

Although one could argue about the effectiveness of Project Semicolon when it does not seem to be as widespread as Bell Let's Talk, it is aesthetically pleasing as well as incredibly meaningful to those who know the symbolism and whose lives have been touched by mental health. I for one, would love a semicolon necklace. What seems to be a mysterious piece of jewelry can become a great conversation starter.

Why is reducing mental health stigma and spreading awareness so important?

Stigma against mental health can come in many forms and exists in many environments. In workplaces, it can manifest as self-stigma from the individual, stigma from others, or stigma from the environment and culture of the workplace. This can contribute to an employee not wanting to discuss their mental health and can create an unsupportive environment, which leads to negative consequences for the employee as well as those around them (Workplace Mental Health Promotion, 2015).

What other creative creative ways have you seen to combat mental health stigma? What are your thoughts on Project Semicolon?

 

References

Project Semicolon (2016). Retrieved from http://www.projectsemicolon.org/

Bell Let's Talk (n.d.). Retrieved from http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives/pillars/anti-stigma/

Workplace Mental Health Promotion (2015). Retrieved from http://wmhp.cmhaontario.ca/workplace-mental-health-core-concepts-issues/issues-in-the-workplace-that-affect-employee-mental-health/stigma-and-discrimination