Had myself a little rant this morning over in the comment section of one of Marissa's recent posts. I couldn't help myself. It was a concise, informative post that just happened to hit most of my big buttons--stigma, lack of education about mental illness, myths and stereotypes, violence and the media, and supposedly educated people making harmful public statements. Yup, that pretty much covers it. By the time I was finished commenting, I realized I had basically written another post. So, here is my comment. Check out Marissa's blog for more details and the links to her source information. Thanks, Marissa, for getting my blood flowing this morning!
The fact that the student knew he had mental illness but didn't appear to be getting any treatment only highlights the stigma surrounding mental illness. One of the primary reasons people do NOT seek mental health care is stigma. Perhaps
if mom and dad knew that people with mental illness can "look okay" but still need help (and I am NOT blaming the parents, only the lack of education we provide our citizens about the realities of these illnesses), but perhaps if they understood that the illness is not better just because their son looked better, he would have been actively getting treatment.
Regarding the violence comment: well, I can't say what I'd like to say...but what an idiot! Comments like these, by a doctor(??), only further the stigma to which I just referred. And his clarifying comment did nothing to diminish the stigmatizing impact of his initial statement. The REALITIES are-- the overwhelming MAJORITY of people with mental illness are NOT violent, except toward themselves if at all, AND that perhaps 99% of all violent acts are committed by people WITHOUT MENTAL ILLNESS! We only hear about the sensationalized cases.
The other reality is that substance use and abuse does play a HUGE role in violent crime, and while it may technically be a mental illness, it should not be lumped with the other brain diseases for these discussions. For example, if I commit a violent crime because I got drunk and stupid; it is BECAUSE I got drunk and stupid, NOT because of my depression, that led me to commit the crime.
...and there ends my rant on that subject.
Thanks for the post.
Posted by: etta
April 24, 2008 at 12:03 PM