Mental Illness Stigma and Society

Mental Illness Stigma and SocietyBack in the '90s, when I was in the psychiatric hospital, I decided to sit and eat my lunch at the same table occupied by the hospital employees - The Healthcare Professionals. Not one of them spoke to me...


They could have at least asked me what I was in for and gotten me an orange jumpsuit. Yes, I’m a proponent of humor - dark and light.


Cracked, crazed, cuckoo, demented, deranged, insane, mad, lunatic, nuts, psycho, off one’s rocker, loony. These are but a few of the synonyms used to describe someone battling mental illness. Yes, in today’s “civilization.” 


Imagine using such equally offensive words to describe anyone else in society facing other types of adversity. Where’s the compassion and acceptance for those of us with mental illness?

Mental Illness Stigma: Society and the mentally ill – two opposing forces, still

Since the beginning of time, those with mental illness have been treated like outcasts – sent off to asylums, caged, and hidden in secret rooms. Society has treated us like leftovers:  placed in a container and relegated to the back of the freezer.


As an extreme example, in the 17th century, some asylums opened their gates for a fee which allowed the public to enter the facility and “view” the residents as a form of “entertainment.” Of course, things have improved since – but not enough.   


For the “lucky” ones who were out in society (and actually acknowledged by the “normal” citizens), they were (and continue to be) shunned, ridiculed, and judged. Swept under the rug, fallen through the cracks. 


Despite all of society’s advancements, those struggling with mental illness continue to represent the final frontier when it comes to acceptance, equality, and compassion in today’s world.


It’s still okay to label without consequence. Sadly, some are subjected to ostracism and scorn by their own family. Being on the receiving end of such treatment is not conducive to healing.


And when it comes to the insurance industry … it’s okay for life insurance companies to discriminate against us due to a (possibly?) higher risk of suicide. Yes, we have been discriminated against and denied outright. I’d be happy to take on that risk. People with mental illness are capable of responsibility. I’ve started and run successful businesses.


I’ve lived to tell my tale. I guess, in the eyes of society, I wasn’t supposed to.


The bottom line is this is unacceptable.


I believe we should begin by changing the term “Mentally Ill” to “Neurodiverse” (among other suggestions by David Oaks, Director, Mind Freedom International).


We must not allow ourselves to be marginalized anymore. We should peacefully present our concerns to our elected officials, healthcare industry, businesses, and education system.

Additionally, we must stand up for ourselves and others (peacefully but with resolve) when we are mocked, labelled, and discriminated against. 


We too are fellow human beings and part of this world.


It’s past time for society to reconcile with the Neurodiverse. ~Ted

Mental Illness Stigma and Insights on Emotional Wellness