Mental Illness Stigma and Society
Mental Illness Stigma and Society: Back 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
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
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
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
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