Friday, January 20, 2012
How do you view mental illness?
Tonight as I am browsing the various blogs that I read I came across a thought on one of them about how mental illness is viewed in our society. Clearly there is a stigma that is still attached to mental illness. The vast majority of society views suffering from a mental illness as something a person should hide. They also view anyone who seeks out the help of a trained professional such as a counselor or therapist as weak, even if this person is simply going to get help communicating with those in their lives or for help with their marriage. People go to a counselor for a variety of reasons not just a mental illness yet therapy itself has a stigma but I will save that talk for another post!
People fear what they do not understand. The majority of people simply do not understand mental illness or therapy in general. Common assumptions about those who suffer from a mental illness are that they are crazy, psycho, weak, poor, and my favorite is that they have chosen their disorder. Do people chose to have cancer? Would you ever accuse someone of choosing to have cancer? It has been proven time and time again medically that people suffer from changes within their brains that cause mental illness. It is not just made up and people don't choose to have it. If you want more information just Google "biological causes for mental illness" and you will have plenty of information at your disposal.
Yet we continue to stigmatize those who do. We continue to portray them in the media as crazy drunken homeless psycho's and continue to laugh or be afraid of them. I ask you why? Why do we continue to do this? Why do we as a society not try to understand these people and treat them with the same respect and care that you would give to someone suffering from what you consider a medical illness such as cancer, a blood disorder, infertility etc. A mental illness IS A MEDICAL DISORDER and should be treated as such. Now I am not saying that everyone who suffers from a mental disorder should be treated using a medical model approach but we should consider a mental disorder as being a medical disorder and provide treatment for it just as any other medical disorder.
So I challenge you to stop and consider your own thoughts about mental illness and what judgements you pass to those who suffer and decide if these opinions are related to fact or societal influence.
For more information about the stigma of mental illness see these links: