I was not the only one shocked and disgusted by NPA Vancouver’s Melissa De Genova public shaming and stigmatizing her political opponent, Vision Vancouver’s Sarah Blyth for getting help with ADHD at work at a public city of Vancouver Park Board meeting.
This is not just about Melissa and Sarah. Or even just ADHD. If another politician or City of Vancouver staff had ADHD or another mental health condition or a disability, they might be less likely to seek help for it at work.
Here’s an excerpt from Vision Vancouver Park Board commissioner Sarah Blyth’s Facebook post on it.
Then Melissa De Genova asked why the governing party would not elect someone capable of doing the job and that she had disabilities too.
As I was leaving Commissioner De Genova proceeded to follow me out the door asking why I was playing the poor me card the disability card for many to hear in disbelief.
People who think and act toward people with ADHD like NPA Vancouver’s Melissa De Genova does, help keep other ADDers hidden in the ADHD closet. Vs. coming out and getting help.
Coming out as being gay is easier than admitting to a mental health condition, study shows.
And ADHD is arguably one of the most stigmatized mental health conditions. I know people who work in the mental health field that get stigmatized when they go public with ADHD by other mental health professionals at work.
Sarah Blyth is the first politician to go public with ADHD in North America while in office in 2011. She helped to get Vancouver to be the first city in Canada to declare ADHD Awareness Week. @sarahblyth is a single mom who works at a homeless shelter in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Melissa De Genova has two learning disabilities, dyslexia and written output disorder, went to a $20,000 a year + private school for ADHD & Learning Disabilities, Fraser Academy, and is on the City of Vancouver’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee. Melissa is running for city council in November, Sarah is not running again.
Multiple reasons why Melissa De Genova, more than most people should have known better. It’s OK to ask about a politician’s spending. But this is different.
NPA Vancouver’s 2 park board commissioners, Melissa De Genova and John Coupar. Photo by BlueAndWhiteArmy.
I asked @MelissaDeGenova on twitter if she has ADHD, but while she answered my other questions, she did not answer that question.
Here’s where she said she went to Fraser Academy.
What will Melissa De Genova election slogan be for her attempt to move up from Park Board commissioner to a city council seat on the NPA Vancouver ticket during the current election race?
- Helping people who need help is bad. Please elect me as your city councillor in November
- Yes I’m on the City of Vancouver’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, but I’m still conservative enough to say, “You’re playing the poor me card, the disabilities card”, if you dare to try to get help at work with a mental health condition.
- Taxpayers shouldn’t pay to help people with mental health conditions at work! We need that money for more important things, like more tax breaks for our real estate donors!
What are other groups and people saying about NPA Vancouver’s Melissa De Genova’s ADHD shaming and stigmatization?
Here’s what some other groups and individuals had to say about the elected official, NPA Vancouver’s Melissa De Genova’s shaming and stigmatizing her political Sarah Blyth when she got help with ADHD at work in a public city of Vancouver Park Board Meeting.
Vancouver Parks Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth writes in the post below that “Stigmatizing someone for seeking help for ADHD, or any mental health condition or a workplace problem is unacceptable in this modern age.” We completely agree and congratulate Ms Blyth for speaking out.
Vancouver’s Battle Against Adult ADHD Stigma
Asking a question about Vancouver paying for the cost of business coaching is, of course, acceptable, making someone with a medical condition feel ashamed for asking for assistance is not.
Every single Vision Vancouver Park Board commissioner has condemned Melissa De Genova ADHD shaming and stigmatization. Patti Bacchus, Vision Vancouver school board trustee chair has. Not a single Vision Vancouver Councilor has. Mayor Gregor has not.
Not a single NPA (Not Progressive at All?) Vancouver politician has condemned their fellow NPA member’s comments. I.e., neither NPA Vancouver mayoral candidate Kirk La Pointe, nor George Affleck nor John Coupar, nor the others, nor have any NPA executives or directors condemned Melissa De Genova’s ADHD shaming and stigmatization.
— Steve Cash (@cosmiclint) July 14, 2014
This is so disgusting. I’m so sorry that Blyth had to deal with this. De Genova should consider resigning – this is really awful conduct.
That is messed up… I would rather see a person getting coaching and help in chairing a meeting, then not getting any…
The well-known critic of Sarah Blyth and Vision Vancouver and activist Jamie Lee Hamilton who was at the meeting did a Facebook post on it.
I was at the Park Board meeting on Monday night May 26 when this distasteful incident occurred. NPA Commissioner Melissa De Genova thought she could gain some political traction out of this issue I suppose but her attack on an elected official with a disability can not be allowed to stand.
I thought Vision Commissioner Sarah Blyth handled the situation well and remained silent while these attacks were leveled at her.
Chairperson Aaron Jasper attempted to reign in Commissioner De Genova but to little avail.
I witnessed Ms. De Genova question whether Commissioner Blyth was fit to do the work required of a Park Commissioner.
This was in my opinion a full on attack of politicians with disabilities.
Moreover, Commissioner De Genova continued her attack as the meeting concluded telling Commissioner Sarah Blyth that she was playing the disability card.
This latest statement by Commissioner De Genova was purposefully stated in attempt to shame Commissioner Blyth.
People with disabilities already shoulder stigma with their disabilities and these statements by an elected official carry weight and add significantly to the stigma of mental health.
I believe Commissioner De Genova needs to make a public apology over her attack.
THAT is outrageous and disgusting. I am so sorry this happened and hope we can do ALL that is needed to make it stop.
Jamie, you and I differ on some issues, but this one has personally touched a nerve. I agree with you 110%!!
As a person with a ‘hidden’ disability (MS) I understand the trials & tribulations that others suffer.
A person in a position such as Melissa’s should be held to a MUCH higher standard of conduct. … Sarah needs to be applauded for her honesty & integrity, and you need to be recognized for sharing this with us.
I can’t believe you were subjected to that kind of harassment. I’m appalled. You are an outstanding leader and role model. We need to go for a walk soon. I miss you!
Patti Bacchus School trustee and Chair of the Vancouver School Board
I’m sorry you had to go through that. Asking for training to do a good job is a responsible thing to do and shows your professionalism.
Pathetic conduct by NPA commissioner Melissa De Genova this week, I’m obviously no fan of Vision Vancouver, but NO elected official should ever be attacked for seeking assistance and professional development for the purposes of doing their duty. These gotcha expense scandals are spiraling into sheer nonsense.
Anyone who is elected to office must be given all the resources they need to do the job.
We need to take access to politics seriously, or it becomes an activity reserved for the upper class.
Beautifully written statement Sarah. Chairing is a learned skill and it’s a credit to you that you wanted to increase your effectiveness in this role. It benefits everyone who attends. I wish more people would take their chairing responsibilities this seriously.
Wow…thank you for being so strong in the face of this ignorance
Sarah you are so strong and brave to speak out about this. Your action is so respectable because, as is always the case with you, your motivation is to help others.
I am a Special Education teacher (Vancouver) and am privileged to work with many students with various learning challenges [… albeit with little or no funding/supports].
The situation you describe Sarah would likely be considered bullying behaviour in a school setting, and subject at least to further discussion with a counselor (if available) and/or the administration.
Has this problem been referred to another civic authority/level for consideration/mediation?
I too have a (minor) disability, and would neither want to be treated disrespectfully for it, nor, to be exposed to disrespect in carrying out any civic duties, as you have. Prevention is key in these situations.
Thank you all, my main concern here is the only way to elect normal people with normal issues. The non 1%, not politically motivated is to be willing to help folks when they need it. Trust me we don’t need any more polished politicians as they really don’t speak for the public.
We also have to be concerned when folks make light of disabilities while serving the public because that’s a mindset.
I think people with ADHD and other mental health conditions should not be shamed and stigmatized for getting help at work.
They should be encouraged and congratulated for getting help vs. staying in denial or staying hidden in the ADHD closet.
Do you agree?