Local woman helping to erase a common stigma
By Miki Landseadel-Sanders
Project aims to ‘put a face’ to mental illness
–Psychological assistant and Paso Robles resident Lisa Aguilar Slover wants to help remove the negative stigma surrounding mental illness. She has started a project, entitled, I Am the Face of Mental Illness, to help her accomplish this goal.
Most of us would probably never consider attaching a stigma to such diseases as Congestive Heart-Failure or Multiple Sclerosis. Yet, according to Slover, despite “a greater number of our population today suffering from a variety of mental illnesses” we persist in, “subjecting such victims to a stigma” about which they are condemned.
Slover says that too often “modern media’s representation of such individuals,” and of society’s “tendency to stereotype people,” does more to interfere with mental health, than any other road-block, because sufferers “simply fear to seek help when they know they’ll be singled out for doing so.”
She speaks of this from a wealth of personal experience besides the diagnoses of those with whom she has worked.
Slover currently works under the supervision of Dr. Halley Moore. She received her doctorate in Psychology at California Southern University and chose this field due to issues surrounding her own family members who exhibited depression and anxiety disorders. She found relief from these troubling family matters by involving herself in high school theatre and the yearbook.
Today, Slover, helps individuals affected by a myriad of mental illnesses. She offers programs designed to offer pathways to mental health, such as DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). In such therapies, she constructs a series of contracts with clients who have Borderline Personality Disorder to help them perform behavior modification, which has tested out very positively clinically. The same stratagem can be compared, for instance, to use of classroom rules whereby students, teachers and administrators sign a so-called “School Compact” for purposes of sustaining good behavior.
Clearly, Slover aids those who have mental illness by offering them the means for self-reliance; however, she wants to go further and advance ways for society to reduce its fears about people who need such therapies.
Slover offers another solution for identifying the “human-being” in the equation of mental illness. She believes that viewing the actual face of an individual so affected and reading his or her personal story will alter our perceptions of their circumstances. On her website, www.iamthefaceofmentalillness.com, she presents images and statements of individuals’ histories in the hope that she can change our cultural attitude from stigma to recognizing the common humanity in everyone. Currently, she’s writing a book based on her work and the subject of her website.
Those interested in participating in the project should contact Slover at firstname.lastname@example.org.