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PsychNotes October 2018
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Clinical and Sport Psychologist

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October 30, 2018

People with Mental Illness are Essential to Our World

People with Mental Illness are Essential to Our World

Even though our society gives lip service to supporting those with mental illness, the stigma still exists. Sometimes I think the stigma is worse because as awareness of mental illness has increased, the pressure for compassion has caused the stigmatization to be more subtle and hidden.

Recently, I became acutely aware of this when I heard someone dismiss a well-known celebrity's opinions because he has a mental illness. When will we begin to understand that a mental illness is not the person? A person can still love, laugh, work and form coherent opinions even though they have a mental illness.

Maybe it is because in trying to remove the stigma society has made certain words unacceptable. It is no longer okay to say someone is “crazy.” So, instead, people say the person has a “mental illness” which can be factual but is not necessarily the cause of their behavior or of the formation of their opinions.

What happens as a result, though, is the term “mental illness” becomes a substitute for “crazy” so that all those who have a mental illness become further stigmatized by virtue of being in that category. When one person's opinions are dismissed or their accomplishments are ignored because they have a mental illness, everyone with a mental illness is stigmatized. Yet, a mental illness often has little to do with their behavior or opinions. Read more...

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