I have a friend who is pervasive enough to know she needs professional help with a form of mental illness. She does not want professional help. She feels if she has to take medications for the rest of her life, or worse, have a long term stay at a behavioral health facility where they might over medicate her if she is oppositional to the treatments that her life and freedom to choose will be over. She could have a better quality of life once the right treatment is found. Everyone may know someone with mental illness, whether they have a psychotic disorder including schizophrenia and its four classifications, Schizoid Effective, Bi-polar Mania, the Autism Spectrum, Tourette’s Syndrome, Depression, ADHD or ADD just to name a few. If we do not know someone affected by a mental illness we may have seen a movie like Girl Interrupted or A Beautiful Mind. Research shows that one half of all Americans will have mental problems sometime in their lifetime (BLOCK).
Alternately one might also know someone who wants to leave a mark of shame on those who suffer from mental illness by mocking them, imitating their odd mannerisms or name calling. This is what is called stigmatizing. The stigma that surround’s mental illness impedes those who need help, from getting help; the act of stigmatizing is wrong and should be considered offensive and stigma has an impact on everyone. The stigma that surround’s mental illness, must be stopped. One thing is certain no one with a mental illness ever said; when I grow up I want to have a mental illness.
To help one understand mental illness and the stigma of mental illness one should define the mind, mental illness and stigma. According to Merrian-Webster .com the mind is defined as: The element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons. According to Answers.com the mind is: The human consciousness that originates in the brain and is manifested especially in thought, perception, emotion, will, memory, and imagination. While these definitions are not wrong, for someone looking for answers about mental illness, the inconsistencies of definitions that are on line can be confusing to someone looking for insight to mental illness. The Surgeon General defines the mind and what ails the mind the best: “As befits the organ of the mind, the human brain is the most complex structure ever investigated by our science. Accordingly the brain, as the origin of the mind, we can conclude that mental illness is what ails the brain” (Mental Health). Many believe that the mind is not a tangible part of the body. This outdated belief leads to confusion about the mind and mental illness, its misunderstanding leads to fear and stigma. To define stigma: according to Merrian-Webster Stigma is b: a mark of shame or discredit: stain c: an identifying mark or characteristic; specifically: a specific diagnostic sign of a disease”.
To see the how the stigma of mental illness came about,...