24 June 2011

Coming Out With Mental Illness

"Across the country, in small towns and cities, hundreds of people with severe mental illness live what appear to be normal, successful lives. They work in demanding jobs. They juggle responsibilities. They pay the bills, study, fall in love, raise families — all while knowing that their secret, if ever exposed, would mean almost certain ruin.
Now, a small number of them are taking that chance, saying that it’s time. The nation’s mental health system is in a shambles, they say, criminalizing many patients and warehousing many others in nursing and group homes where they receive minimal therapy.
Moreover, the enduring stigma of mental illness teaches people with a diagnosis to think of themselves as victims, snuffing out the one thing that can motivate them to find treatment — hope."

Tara Parker-Pope, NYT  

See also: Kay Redfield Jamison
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Christine H. said...

Well said!
I experienced an interesting change in perspective when someone I knew had a mental breakdown and ended up (briefly) on the street. Previously I had mostly been afraid of the harm mentally-ill people on the street could do to me or others. But when it was someone I knew, all of sudden I was just worried about what other people might do to him. My perspective forever changed because of that.

*hbxx* said...

i think that's true for most everyone- the stigma is so mind-bending, and has been so firmly-entrenched for centuries, that it takes an experience like yours, or the courage of people like that women in the article to speak openly about their illnesses to break the spell. i liken it to any other implicit/explicit bias that people start learning when they can walk and talk...

My fear is, though, that it might take a revolution of sorts to change the way people think- A lot of people need to collectively speak-out- not just celebrities and University professors. Things like this have happened before, and generally we wind-up back where we started. i do have some hope, however, lol.

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