David Earl Johnson, LICSW

2 minute read

A British mental health advocacy organization came up with a provocative way to challenge the stigma of mental illness. They commissioned a sculpture of Winston Churchill in a straitjacket. The British Prime Minister, who led the British people through WWII, is widely considered a heroic figure inspiring honor, persistence against overwhelming odds, and unbending will. Many have taken exception to what they consider to be a undignified association. Churchill suffered from depression, an experience he called his “black dog.” Rethink .org

Rethink severe mental illness today (September 14) defied an official ban to protest at the “last taboo” of mental health stigma and start a debate on how to overcome it. The charity had planned to unveil a “black dog” statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a straitjacket in London’s Trafalgar Square to draw dramatic attention to the stigma surrounding mental ill-health. But the statue, emblazoned with a “prejudice, ignorance and fear” sash, was banned. Instead, the statue is taking to the road and touring central London in defiance of the ban, imposed by the Greater London Authority, which controls access to Trafalgar Square. Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said: “Mental illness is the last taboo. People deny it, try to hide it and hide from it. We are determined to break out of the straitjacket and challenge prejudice, ignorance and fear wherever they appear. I admire their creativity and courage to face the consequences of controversy for a good cause. Let’s hope it helps!

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