Mental Health Awareness


Schizophrenia Stigmas
January 15, 2009, 3:50 am
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Schizophrenia Stigmas

This is an informational video about Stigmas of Schizophrenia from the Health Channel. The purpose of this problem is to identify common stigmas of the disease, and raise awarness of the problem in believing these stigmas.



Get involved and make a difference…
January 9, 2009, 7:19 pm
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Get Involved With Mental Health

Do you want to take action to remove stigma at your school? We get a lot of requests from people wondering what they can do to educate students on their campuses. One of the best ways to remove stigma is peer to peer education. Here are some ideas you can do at your high school or college:

Bring a Speaker – Have a speaker give an assembly to your whole high school or speak to for certain events on your campus. You can check out our speakers or write to us for more information.

Start an Active Minds Chapter – If you’re in college then this is the perfect time for you to form a group to educate others. Active Minds on Campus is a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy organization designed for the college campus. The group’s mission is to utilize peer outreach to increase student’s awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources, encourage students to seek help, and serve as a liaison between students and the mental health community. To start an Active Minds chapter on your college campus, check out www.activemindsoncampus.org

Start Your Own Mental Health Group – If your school doesn’t have a mental health awareness group and you want them to, find other students who share this interest, get an advisor and start your own group. You can work with the counseling center to find resources and work together on promoting events.

Organize a mental health fair – It can be held at the student center, in the quad, or a similar well-trafficked area. Ask mental health professionals to volunteer their time to be on hand to answer questions about mental health. Distribute information about mental health and mental illness. Offer professional mental health screenings www.mentalhealthscreening.org

Observe Mental Health Weeks and Days – Mental Illness Awareness Week occurs during the second week of October, and May is Mental Health Month. You can create a mental health awareness campaign to commemorate either of these dates. During these campaigns, offer resources of warning signs, statistics, where students can get help, and tables where students can make stress balls, get a massage to relieve stress, trace their bodies on paper to promote healthy body image or other various interactive activities.

Partner, Partner, Partner – If you can’t start your own group or even if you do, make sure you work with other groups like SADD, Peer Helpers, fraternities, sororities, athletes, student council or whomever you can to have them tie mental health awareness into their drug, alcohol, sexually transmitted illnesses or any educational issue by using relevant statistics like 66% of young people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental health issue. You can also tie mental health into freshman orientations, after a tragic event on campus or even around stressful times like finals, midterms etc.

Speak to classes – You can ask to speak about mental health or your experiences on behalf of your new group to health classes, psychology classes, or any other class you feel is appropriate. If someone wants to speak about their personal experience they should have the permission and guidance of a mental health professional or counselor.

Organize a walk or run – Organize a walk, run or other event to raise money for mental health awareness. Use the money to expand your outreach or donate the money to a local mental health organization or national mental health organization that you would like to support.

Work with your counseling center to start a support group – Coordinate with your counseling center or local mental health professionals to organize a support group for students or members of your sorority to discuss their problems or a specific problem i.e. eating disorders, depression, abuse, divorce, etc.. The group will need to be supervised by a mental health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or anyone qualified). If organizing your own group through the guidance of a professional isn’t available, then find out where support groups meet and provide information on the groups to students.

Make posters – You can make posters to place around your campus that highlight statistics, warning signs or disorders, ask questions or give someone the ability to write down most of their thoughts when suffering with a mental disorder. The goal of the posters should be to encourage people to seek help and know they’re not alone.

Provide resources – Contact a local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Mental Health America, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the Suicide Action Prevention Network, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, Yellow Ribbon, or other groups to find free local mental health resources and promote those resources to the school.

Reach out to Parents – Ask the administration at your school to start sending home warning signs of mental disorders and resources available for students who may be suffering to help educate parents on mental health issues.

Write an article – Contact your school newspaper and write a relevant article on mental health issues or even possibly share your own story. You can tie this into mental health days or weeks or any events you may be doing at your high school or college.

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Famous people with mental illness…
December 24, 2008, 1:02 pm
Filed under: awareness, Education | Tags: , , ,

Famous People with Mental Illness

Mental Illness is not confined to any particular ethnic, racial, religious, or financial group. Anyone can get it, at any time.

Even though most mental illnesses have devastating effects on the lives of those affected, many have found that these illnesses can produce extraordinary clarity, insight, and creativity as well.

Below you will find the names of many famous people who felt not only the devastation, but also the extraordinary creative potential, as well as the courage to use it. It’s quite a list. Please take the time to browse it thoroughly.

Abraham Lincoln
The admired sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating clinical depression which sometimes led to thoughts of suicide as well.
Virginia Woolf
The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the severe mood swings of bipolar disorder which included feverish periods of writing and weeks spent in the gloom of depression. Anthony Storr wrote about her story in The Dynamics of Creation .
Lionel Aldridge
As a defensive end for the legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s, he played in two Super Bowls. During the 1970’s, he suffered from schizophrenia and spent two and a half years homeless. Before he died in 1998, he gave many inspirational talks concerning his battle against paranoid schizophrenia.
Eugene O’Neill
The famous playwright, author of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, is documented as having suffered from clinical depression.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The brilliant composer is documented as having suffered from bipolar disorder, in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
Gaetano Donizetti
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder.
Robert Schumann
The “inspired poet of human suffering” lived with bipolar disorder, as one of many creative people discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.
Leo Tolstoy
Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the depth of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. He suffered from clinical depression, hypochondriasis, alcoholism, and substance abuse. His experiences are discussed in both The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.
Vaslov Nijinsky
His autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy, documents the dancer’s battle with schizophrenia.
John Keats
This renowned poet’s mental illness is documented along with the illnesses of many others in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.
Tennessee Williams
The playwright wrote about his personal struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs, and his experience is also documented in Five O’Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto; and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.
Vincent Van Gogh
The bipolar disorder that this celebrated artist suffered from is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.
Isaac Newton
The English mathematician and scientist who formulated the theory of gravitation is suspected of suffering from bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
Ernest Hemingway
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist’s bouts with suicidal depression are examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.
Sylvia Plath
The suicide of this poet and novelist was caused by her lifelong struggle with clinical depression, as discussed in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by Nancy Hunter-Steiner.
Michelangelo
The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr discusses the mental illness of one of the world’s greatest artistic geniuses.
Winston Churchill
The quote “Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished,” was written by Anthony Storr about Churchill’s bipolar disorder in Churchill’s Black Dog, Kafka’s Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.
Vivien Leigh
The British actress of the 1950’s & 60’s, star of Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire suffered from the mental illness bipolar disorder, as documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.
Jimmy Piersall
The Truth Hurts, written by the baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, detailed his experience with bipolar disorder.
Patty Duke
The Academy Award-winning actress revealed her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna, and in A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.
Charles Dickens
The clinical depression of one of the greatest authors in the English language is documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson.
John Forbes Nash
Mathematician, author of the game theory of economics, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics, he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He was also the subject of the book and movie “A Beautiful Mind” <!–
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Violence and mental illness
December 21, 2008, 1:28 am
Filed under: awareness, Education, Resources, stigma | Tags: , , , , ,

Violence and Mental Illness: The Facts

The discrimination and stigma associated with mental illnesses largely stem from the link between mental illness and violence in the minds of the general public, according to the U.S. Surgeon General (DHHS, 1999). The belief that persons with mental illness are dangerous is a significant factor in the development of stigma and discrimination (Corrigan, et al., 2002). The effects of stigma and discrimination are profound. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that, “Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders – especially severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment (New Freedom Commission, 2003).”

This link is often promoted by the entertainment and news media. For example, Mental Health America, (formerly the National Mental Health Association) reported that, according to a survey for the Screen Actors’ Guild, characters in prime time television portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups: 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence. Also most news accounts portray people with mental illness as dangerous (Mental Health America, 1999). The vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on other negative characteristics related to people with the disorder (e.g., unpredictability and unsociability) or on medical treatments. Notably absent are positive stories that highlight recovery of many persons with even the most serious of mental illnesses (Wahl, et al., 2002). Inaccurate and stereotypical representations of mental illness also exist in other mass media, such as films, music, novels and cartoons (Wahl, 1995).

Most citizens believe persons with mental illnesses are dangerous. A longitudinal study of American’s attitudes on mental health between 1950 and 1996 found, “the proportion of Americans who describe mental illness in terms consistent with violent or dangerous behavior nearly doubled.” Also, the vast majority of Americans believe that persons with mental illnesses pose a threat for violence towards others and themselves (Pescosolido, et al., 1996, Pescosolido et al., 1999).

As a result, Americans are hesitant to interact with people who have mental illnesses. Thirty-eight percent are unwilling to be friends with someone having mental health difficulties; sixty-four percent do not want someone who has schizophrenia as a close co-worker, and more than sixty-eight percent are unwilling to have someone with depression marry into their family (Pescosolido, et al., 1996).

But, in truth, people have little reason for such fears. In reviewing the research on violence and mental illness, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small,” and further, “the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population (Institute of Medicine, 2006). Other risk factors have more to do with violent behavior such as past violent victimization, lack of social supports, and substance abuse,. (Hiday, 2006; Swanson, J. et al., 2002).

In addition:

  • “Research has shown that the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).”
  • “. . . [T]he absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is still very small and . . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill (Mulvey, 1994).”

 

People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University found that people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al., 1999).

People with mental illnesses can and do recover. People with mental illnesses can recover or manage their conditions and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. They contribute to society and make the world a better place. People can often benefit from medication, rehabilitation, talk therapy, self help or a combination of these. One of the most important factors in recovery is the understanding and acceptance of family and friends.

  • “Most people who suffer from a mental disorder are not violent — there is no need to fear them. Embrace them for who they are — normal human beings experiencing a difficult time, who need your open mind, caring attitude, and helpful support (Grohol, 1998).”

References

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Fact Sheet: Violence and Mental Illness. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Appleby, L., Mortensen, P. B., Dunn, G., & Hiroeh, U. (2001). Death by homicide, suicide, and other unnatural causes in people with mental illness: a population-based study. The Lancet, 358, 2110-2112.

Corrigan, P.W., Rowan, D., Green, A., et al. (2002) .Challenging two mental illness stigmas: Personal responsibility and dangerousness. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 28, 293-309.

DHHS. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/toc.html

Grohol, J. M. (1998). Dispelling the violence myth. Psych Central. Available: http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm

Hiday, V. A. (2006). Putting Community Risk in Perspective: a Look at Correlations, Causes and Controls. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 29, 316-331.

Hiday, V.A., Swartz, M.S., Swanson, J.W., et al. (1999). Criminal victimization of persons with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 50, 62–68.

Institute of Medicine, Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental and Substance-Use Conditions. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, 2006.

Mental Health America. American Opinions on Mental Health Issues. Alexandria: NMHA, 1999.

Monahan, J. & Arnold, J. (1996). Violence by people with mental Illness: a consensus statement by advocates and researchers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 19, 67-70.

Mulvey, E. P. (1994). Assessing the evidence of a link between mental illness and violence. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 45, 663-668.

Pescosolido, B.A., Martin, J.K., Link, B.G., et al. Americans’ Views of Mental Health and Illness at Century’s End: Continuity and Change. Public Report on the MacArthur Mental health Module, 1996 General Social Survey. Bloomington: Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research and Joseph P. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 2000. Available: http://www.indiana.edu/~icmhsr/amerview1.pdf

Pescosolido, B.A., Monahan, J. Link, B.G. Stueve, A., & Kikuzawa, S. (1999). The public’s view of the competence, dangerousness, and need for legal coercion of persons with mental health problems. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 1339-1345.

New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America. Final Report. DHHS Pub. No. SMA-03-3832. Rockville, MD: 2003.

Swanson, J.W., Swartz, M.S., Essock, S.M, et al. (2002).The social-environmental context of violent behavior in persons treated for severe mental illness. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 1523-1532.

Wahl, O. (1995). Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Wahl, O.F., et al. (2002). Newspaper coverage of mental illness: is it changing? Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills, 6, 9-31.

For more information about how to address discrimination and stigma, contact the SAMHSA Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma (ADS Center), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services at http://stopstigma.samhsa.gov, e-mail stopstigma@samhsa.hhs.gov, or call 800–540–0320.

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Meeting your match!
December 20, 2008, 1:06 am
Filed under: awareness, Education, stigma | Tags: , ,

Mental Health Stigma Meets Its Match

by Kathi Stringer

It was a cloudy day as the silver bird emerged from the clouds into a flight pattern. The aviator flipped the switches to prepare for landing. He checked his altimeter, leveled out the machine and touched down after a smooth decent. It was a perfect landing. The engine sputtered as he taxied down the runway. With experience and ease the aviator manipulated the rudders until the plane swung next to a hatch.

This story took place in a small peaceful town. Most of the residents knew each other on a first name basis. However, that day there was a problem. The sheriff responded to a call concerning a vagrant loitering on a city bench. He had seen his kind before on routine patrol. On occasion his task was clear up the bothersome vagrants when they appeared. The city just didn’t put up with the unsightly trash and his job was to keep the city safe.

The man looked disheveled and worn. His face sprouted wiry hairs in contrast to his sunken eyes. It appeared he was dazed or perhaps lost in thought. Either way, he looked impaired and that made him dangerous. He had to go.

The law inquired as to the identity of the demented. He responded, “Howard, my name is Howard Hughes.” The sheriff chucked, “Yeah right, I’m the Easter Bunny.” He opened the rear door of the squad car and ran him in. The man continued his resolve as to this identity. It wasn’t going to well. He must be drug addict or completely psychotic. The man was put behind bars to keep the town safe.

A few hours later a sheriff’s friend rang his office for a friendly chat. In passing the sheriff rolled his eyes and said, “You won’t believe who I have here today, Howard Hughes.” It was a good chuckle for both of them. On the uptake his friend thought he might have a look at the stranger anyway. I mean after all, he was the junior vise president for a small satellite division of Hughes Aircraft, which was the main employer in town. It should be entertaining regardless.

Art Kemper, the Hughes executive arrived. Nicely groomed and professionally dressed, he looked at what appeared to be a homeless nobody. His wrinkled clothes matched the man’s foul appearance. Art introduced himself as a Hughes Aircraft executive and the inquired as to his name. The lost soul glanced up from this bunk and replied, “I’m Howard Hughes.” Art admitted he had never seen Howard Hughes before, but he did have one additional question that would clear things up. Art humorously asked, “Well now Howard Hughes, that is if you are really Howard Hughes that is, who do I work for? The vagrant’s eyes became focused and steely as he replied, “You work for Dan Ferguson, and Dan Ferguson works for Hal Thomas, and Hal Thomas works for Ed Mason, and Ed Mason works for Noah Dietrich, and Noah Dietrich works for me.” The sheriff grinned as he turned to look at Art. However, Art was not smiling. Something looked wrong. He looked financially terrified in response to stranger’s reply. The words did not come as his eyes motioned to the sheriff there may be hell to pay. “My God Mr. Hughes,” said Art in all sincerity. “It was an oversight. I’m so sorry! Sheriff, you had better let this man out of jail. If he wanted to, he could lay this whole town to waste with the flick of a pen.” Stunned, the sheriff was stunned.

The vagrant climbed into his plane and with the turn of the switch power surged into the engine. He was Howard Hughes, a record-breaking aviator, inventor, playboy and billionaire. He was one of us.

Jan 9, 2003

Compliments of Kathi Stringer
Kathi’s Mental Health Review
www.toddlertime.com

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A couple links..
December 15, 2008, 9:10 am
Filed under: Resources, stigma | Tags: , , ,

img_home_psa_spot

For a Pdf. of more posters and banners like this.. go here..

For a confidential depression screening.. go here..



Scapegoating and Stigma
December 13, 2008, 6:51 am
Filed under: Education | Tags: , ,

Scapegoating And Mental Illness Stigma
Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

What is wrong with this picture?

 

Youre a work supervisor and you get an early morning telephone call from one of your employees. The employee tells you that his panic attacks have him paralyzed this morning and that he will be late into work. You tell him that you are glad he called and that he should come back to work as soon as he can.

If Ive illustrated my point properly, what seemed odd to you was that any employee would even consider calling in sick with an anxiety disorder a mental illness. That this would be an odd event to you is evidence for what Mays editorial/essay is about the stigma attached to mental health issues and disorders. As Ill use the phrase, mental health stigma refers to the stereotyped set of negative attitudes, inaccurate beliefs and fears about mental health issues that influence how mental health issues are understood. There is no inherent reason for why mental illness should be thought to be any more of a negative or frightening thing than any physical illness and yet it is. In the paragraphs ahead, Ill see if I cant introduce some ideas for why this should be; where mental health stigma comes from, what its dimensions are, and what can be done about it.

It is hard to understand how one thing gets stigmatized while another thing does not without also understanding one of the important ways that stigmas get applied the process of scapegoating. The term scapegoating refers originally to a rather ancient sort of magical ritual, used extensively in religious practices, to clean a community of sin. In the scapegoating ritual, the sins of a community are magically transferred from the community members onto an animal (a goat or other animal suitable for sacrifice) and then the animal is destroyed or driven off away from the community. The community practicing scapegoating believed that, through the destruction or segregation of the sacrificial animal which magically now carried all the sin for the community, that the community was cleansed in front of what ever form of deity might be judging them.

If you look at this scapegoat practice with a literal eye, it seems absurd. How stupid were these people to think that their personal sins, guilts, crimes and the like could be transferred to a goat. How much stupider were these people to think that the destruction of this sin-laden animal could cancel out their own sin, guilt, crime? To make sense of this ritual, it must be understood that the process of transfer of sin was a psychological (and spiritual?) one, and not a physical one. Psychologically, what was actually being transferred was a set of negative judgments. The judgments were being transferred from one object to another; from the self-concepts of the guilty, sinful community members to the goat. The psychological act of transferring personal sin away from the self and onto something else did create palpable relief in the minds of the community members who participated in the scapegoat ritual.

While literal sacrifice of scapegoated animals is less popular today than it used to be, the psychological practice of scapegoating has remained alive and well and has shaped our cultural attitudes towards mental illness.

In his landmark book, Madness and Civilization, the cultural historian Michel Foucault described an interesting scapegoating practice that took place during medieval Europe of the 1500s and later. Europe at the time was in a transition period. In the recent past, the terrible medical disease of Leprosy had been rampant, with many persons infected. As you might expect when dealing with a disease that involves having your flesh rot off your living body, lepers were in many cases forced out of society into isolated colonies. In contrast to the scapegoated lepers, the mentally ill of the day were not segregated from society, but rather were an accepted part of society. Some mentally ill were even reverently thought to have been favored by God as holy fools. As the plague of leprosy retreated from Europe and was no longer a threat, the Europeans began to convert their now empty leper colonies into hospitals and to populate these hospitals with the mentally ill who came to be increasingly viewed as a threat to society. It was as though the Europeans needed to maintain a scapegoated class and when there were no more lepers to segregate and look upon as sinful and threatening, a scapegoat-vacuum was created. This vacuum was ultimately filled by making the mentally ill into the new scapegoats for society. The mentally ill appear to have been a primary target of this stigma-creating scapegoating process ever since.

 

The modern stigma attached to mental health has two major component beliefs, neither of which has any substantial basis in reality:

  • The belief that the mentally ill are Violent and a Threat to Society. (The mentally ill are crazed killers who hear voices to kill other people and then do so). 
  • The belief that mentally ill persons are Weak, and that they are Moral Failures. (Mental illness is evidence of a failure of strength. Mentally ill persons could have prevented their illnesses or could pull out of them if only they werent such weaklings).

 

Society acts on these mistaken and unsupported beliefs in profound ways:

  • There is inadequate national funding for research or treatment of mental illness. 
  • Private sector mental health institutions can barely meet expenses and frequently lose money simply because they cannot get public sector health coverage to pay for necessary services. 
  • Health Insurers offer much less adequate coverage for mental health problems than they do for physical health problems and fight grassroots efforts to mandate equal treatment of recognized disorders. 
  • Employees with a history of mental illness must be careful about disclosing their treatment history for fear of discrimination. 
  • Television shows like ABCs recent Wonderland reinforce the stereotypes of the violent killer mental patient. 
  • Media pay close attention to mentally ill persons who commit violent crimes, but not to mentally ill persons who get better and lead productive lives.

 

You can work to combat these injustices by recognizing them when they occur and working to correct them through responsible social pressure. A primary way to achieve this goal is to support the activities of groups that exist to combat mental health stigma.

Two notable groups come to mind that are worth your attention:

  • The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is a grassroots, self-help and family advocacy organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. 
  • The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) strives to improve attitudes toward mental illness and the mentally ill; to improve services for the mentally ill; to work for the prevention of mental illness and promote mental health. They are active in legislative efforts to get insurance companies to pony up payments for needed services.

 

If there is a lesson in this editorial/essay, I hope it is this. People create stigma out of their own fears and ignorance. Through education and awareness, people can also undo the harmful stigmas they have created and maintained. Reference:
Dombeck, M.J. (May 2000). Scapegoating and Mental Illness Stigma [Online]. Mental Help Net.

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