Having a mental illness is hard, especially if your mental health is poor too. It can affect your physical well-being, your relationships, your community, your legal standing and your ability to provide for yourself or your loved ones. The Jeffry Stijn Foundation for Mental Health and Patient Advocacy wants lessen the burden of those struggles.
Mental health is definitely becoming a more accepted topic globally, but mental illness is still taboo. A lot of people suffer in private, because they fear the repercussions of being honest about their mental illness. Their silence is understandable in the face of discrimination, violations of basic rights, and being denied career opportunities.
What can the Jeffry Stijn Foundation do?
The Jeffry Stijn Foundation wants to put a stop to the taboo surrounding mental illness. Strides are being made when it comes to physical disabilities, but not where mental illness is concerned. Help for people struggling with mental illnesses or poor mental health is in short supply.
In small communities with limited resources, such as Aruba, patients with mental health challenges face even greater obstacles.
The Jeffry Stijn Foundation wants to help patients by:
- Providing information about mental health and mental illness
- Listing available resources, both locally and online
- Supporting peer-to-peer initiatives
- Providing a platform for patient experiences as well as mental health professionals
- Advocating for changes in laws, organizations and society to break taboos and protect patient rights
What can I find where?
This site provides information such as:
- The difference between (poor) mental health and mental illness
- What types of mental illnesses there are
- Answers to frequently asked questions about mental illness
- Links to local and online resources to improve mental health
- A blog by the founder of the Jeffry Stijn Foundation
- Trauma and its effects
- Links to books and blogs about mental illness
- What rights a patient has, and how the Foundation advocates for them
Note from the founder of the Jeffry Stijn Foundation
Throughout my life I have learned a lot about mental illness and mental health. I was often misdiagnosed, so I started learning about mental illnesses, as well as mental health in general. I read a lot about trauma, both acute and covert, to try to understand where my illness came from.
My environment could not understand how I was eloquent and rational, yet be mentally ill. I had to explain things over and over again. Granted accomodations only when I stopped functioning. I was fired for following my treatment. Mental health care I sorely needed was first granted, then discontinued. Multiple times.
When my mental health was better, people assumed my mental illness must be cured. And then the cycle began again.
I felt very alone.
Why take this on?
I have been very open and honest about my mental illness and mental health throughout the years. I have slowly but surely found others facing similar trials and tribulations. Through conversations I became aware of how many suffer in silence for fear of reprisals such as I faced and am facing.
This silence helps no one.
In March 2023 I contacted a notary to start the incorporation of the Jeffry Stijn Foundation. I created this site to speak up and speak out.
For the coming year raising awareness and creating content for this site will be the main focus. I will make the information I have gathered over the past 30 years accessible and share my personal experiences throughout my life. I’ll try and provide a platform where people facing similar struggles can find practical information, peer support and share experiences. Standard legal papers and letters will be made available.
In the future I hope to find more contributors with different mental illnesses willing to share their journeys, as well as initiate practical, societal changes to lessen the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Though I cannot concretely reveal all plans yet, projects will include surveys among patients as to what concrete things they are missing, or what their priorities are when it comes to managing their mental health. Providing group support and workshops, representing patients in boards of organizations that deal with mental health, as well as working together with employers to accommodate employees who suffer from poor mental health.
Mental health care professionals will also weigh in on mental health topics, as well as interviews with stakeholders.
I want to thank all of those who have supported me in my journey, you have been invaluable in ways I cannot adequately describe. I also want to thank those who have hindered my mental health. You have taught me how to explain mental illness topics in very basic ways and forced me to fight for my basic rights. I believe both these skills will prove very useful in making the Jeffry Stijn Foundation a success.