Big Brothers Big Sisters Discriminates Against Those Receiving Mental Health Treatment

It's time to change - let's end mental health discrimination.

If you have ever seen a therapist for any reason and are thinking of joining Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) - a great program for which I am a volunteer for almost year - expect to provide your therapist's referral. The reason for this policy is to ensure that a volunteer is not a danger to his little brother or sister.

When applying for the program, I myself provided such a referral. I have no problem with asking my therapist to provide a referral, stating that I am a safe individual to become a mentor, and I encourage the practice of ensuring child safety in any way possible.

The problem with this policy is that BBBS requires a therapist's referral from only potential mentors who have been in therapy. This practice is discriminatory agains those who have been in therapy, and here is why:

The reason this policy is discriminatory is because those who have not been in therapy are not required to provide such - or any - referrals. The glaring explanation for this policy is that it is derived from the stigmatizing - and unfounded - belief that those who have been to therapy are a danger to society.

I do not have any objections to BBBS asking for referrals from therapists, however, I feel that the policy is discriminatory against those who have been to therapy because only those who say that they have been in therapy are required to give a referral from their therapists.

I think everyone who is considered for becoming a big brother or a big sister should be treated equally and that this policy is discriminatory on the basis of having attended therapy. And since those who have seen a therapist are required to give their therapists' referrals, everybody should be required to see a therapist (if they don't already) and get a referral.

This is exactly the kind of discrimination that perpetuates stigma and prevents millions of Americans from seeking treatment. This policy is a shame for the BBBS program, those who have seen mental health professionals, and society as a whole - because mental health affects everyone - and needs to be amended.

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