For those with mental illness, stigma cuts deep

loony“There isn’t a person on earth that would make fun of a bald three-year-old who was undergoing chemotherapy. And yet, if someone’s acting weird we call them names. … It’s so accepted that it’s frightening,” Laura said, highlighting insults like “whack job,” “nut case,” and “psycho.”

SOURCE:  For those with mental illness, stigma cuts deep – CBS News.

Let’s face it our society is still pretty much biased against those with mental illness.  Our prisons are filled with many who are in that category. They say about one-third of those homeless who live on our streets are afflicted with mental illness. We just don’t seem to have much compassion or even understanding of the mentally ill.

Many of us see mental illness as more of a personal weakness rather than a disease. We think “if only that person could get his act together he would not have any problems.  So is it no wonder that so many will not seek any relief for their conditions. Many problems in this area are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can now be readily relieved by medication. But because of the stigma attached many just don’t seek help. This is especially tragic when that mentally ill person manages to so easily get a gun and then go into a crowd of people to relieve his demons.

One of  the problems in this area is how our entertainment venues depict mental illness and its treatment. The movie “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” is very typical of that genre. In it all the patients are kept in a totally spaced out drugged state by sinister caregivers.  About the only recent movie to give a realistic view of mental illness is  “A Beautiful Mind” where Russell Crowe plays the part of a real-life Princeton professor battling severe mental illness.

Thankfully somethings are starting change in that regard. There is currently a new TV show called “Perceptions” that shows a very functional bi-polar who is a college professor and deals with many of the difficult life issues in the series. I applaud those who are bringing this issue up today. It takes guts to deal with these types of things.  Now if we could just push this understanding down to the average person level….