Breaking The Stigma Of Mental Illness

In honor of Mental Illness Awarenss Week: Oct. 2-8, 2011, I’m reposting a blog I wrote back on March 8th. It seems appropriate, as well as important. Look for a new “What’s On My Bookshelf” tomorrow.

******

A

Say someone you love is diagnosed with cancer…

  1. Are you embarrassed, perhaps even ashamed?
  2. Do you hide the diagnosis from friends?
  3. When your loved one suffers through treatments that cause unpleasant, even visually unappealing side effects, do you hide their suffering out of embarrassment, depriving them of comfort and support?

In fact, if someone you love was diagnosed with any of the following, Type 1 diabetes, a brain tumor or muscular dystrophy, would you do anything less than, as they say, rally the troops to provide as much emotional support, prayer support, and information/educational support as you possibly can so they have the best chance of getting better?

Of course you would!

Now, what if someone you love is diagnosed with a mental illness?

B

I won’t repeat questions 1 through 3 above (you can ask these yourself). As you do, keep in mind that according to NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) schizophrenia affects 1 out of 100 people (1.1% of the population, or about 2.4 million Americans). Most victims are struck down in the prime of their early adult years. Also, schizophrenia is far more common than many other disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy, which we hear much more about.

In addition:

  • Bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million American Adults (approx. 2.6% of the population)
  • Major depressive disorder affects 6.7% of adults or approximately 14.8 million American adults (1 man in 10, and 1 woman in 5 will have a serious depression in their lives, usually before they are 40 years old.) *

Rather than go on about the obvious: the deplorable way we treat people who, through no fault of their own, are diagnosed with a mental illness, let me ask you this: If someone you love was diagnosed with a mental illness, wouldn’t it be great if…

  • You could speak openly about it, so when the one you love is having an episode, people would sympathize and understand.
  • You could speak openly about it, knowing that friends and family would offer support to your loved one, such as encouraging them to seek or continue treatment or a high-fiving them when they are doing well.
  • You could speak openly about it, knowing that while your loved one may have a disease, the disease does not define them.
  • You could speak openly about it, rallying 10, 20, 100 or even thousands of people to pray for your loved one.

C

So that’s what I’ve been pondering lately. My intention was not to write a dissertation on the subject of why, worldwide, we tend to treat people with mental illness worse than people with physical illness (there are some cultures that refuse to even acknowledge mental illness), but rather, to give you something to think about.

Wouldn’t it be great if people with mental illness no longer felt ashamed?

Learn more about mental illness and help break the stigma at: www.nami.org. *Click HERE for more facts and numbers on mental illness.

(A: Pres. Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression, B: John Nash suffered from schizophrenia, C: Carrie Fisher suffers from bipolar disorder)

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4 thoughts on “Breaking The Stigma Of Mental Illness

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  2. dien dan rao vat viec lam da lat says:

    I usually do not drop many responses, however I read a few
    of the remarks on Breaking The Stigma Of Mental Illness –
    LJ Metz. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Could it be simply me or do some of the remarks look like they are written by brain dead people?
    😛 And, if you are posting on other online sites, I
    would like to follow everything fresh you have
    to post. Would you list of every one of all your social community pages like
    your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    Like

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