‘Stigma hurts,’ she told me.


“I’ve experienced stigma and it took me a long time to move on,” she said. “There is no need to hurt people by stigmatizing them. Everyone needs to think  how they would like it if they became the stigmatized ones … stigmatized for something that is not even their fault. Do you know that if you do not contract a mental illness, it will probably happen to someone you know?” I was visiting my son in a psychiatric hospital and all this is what I was told by a university student who had been hospitalized in the middle of her studies for her Master’s Degree in medicine.

She continued; “The recovery rate for mental health problems is between 70 and 80% nowadays. Good mental health is as important as good physical health. I read somewhere that it is unjustified to discriminate against people suffering from a mental illness and it might even become illegal. The stigma arises out of misinformed attitudes, ignorance and fear. Contrary to popular belief, the overwhelming majority of us are neither violent nor dangerous.”

“Do you know that if someone is stabbed in the street, everyone assumes automatically that it’s one of us? They think that we get off lightly with a shorter jail sentence than we should. I find this so very disheartening that it makes me crawl into my shell which then makes my condition even worse. After that, I have a hard time going out in case this happens to me.”

“Do you know that people suffering from schizophrenia are far more dangerous to themselvs than to others? In addition, we are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime?”

“A suicide is usually newsworthy and is a legitimate subject for reporting, however, media coverage requires sensitivity and compassion as it can potentially save lives. Evidence shows that copycat suicides can result from detailed descriptions by the media of the methods used. The most vulnerable appear to be young people and the risk seems to be greater when there is a feeling of identification, such as in the case of celebrity deaths by suicide.”

“It is important to bear in mind that the language used to report a suicide does not glamorize nor sensationalize it, nor present suicide as the solution to a problem. Suicide has been decriminalized so it is inaccurate to use the word committed . A completed suicide should NOT be described as successful nor unsuccessful if it does not result in death.”

 

Now tell me honestly, does this woman sound like the kind of psychiatric patient you read about in the press? And I want you to know that she does not stand alone. There are many doctors and other professionals who suffer from some kind of psychiatric problem or other, yet still manage to lead productive lives except for the times they have a psychiatric breakdown.

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This entry was posted in Schizophrenia on by .

About Jill

Author of books and articles on support and experiences of living with a mentally ill family member. My aim in blogging is to let others see how a loving family, with a father and husband who is able to give unconditional love, can help the family cope. Many call me the blogging grandma.'

One thought on “‘Stigma hurts,’ she told me.

  1. HN

    She raises many excellent points. During my time in the hospital last year there were about 6 other patients in the wing with me, which included a professional tennis player, a lawyer, and a PhD. As you said, with the right treatment, people that have a mental illness can lead successful and amazing lives. But, those are not the stories that we hear.

    Reply

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