Better Mental Health
I have seen a lot of blogs recently about the stigma of having a mental illness. It's true, there are still an awful lot of people who immediately tense up and look wary as soon as they learn that someone is mentally ill. Why? Is it because they assume that, if someone is mentally ill they must be unpredictable and maybe violent? I have heard people say things like, "you need to watch him, he's a nutter". When asked why, their response was "he's got that bipolar thing". Like it were a disease. Sorry it may have been the wrong thing to do but, I could not help but laugh. Someone had been classed as a nutter by another person who didn't even know what the illness was, only what it was called and they thought he was a nutter.
When I was a child, our parents used to chastise us if we laughed at anyone or called them names. No matter what they had, whether it was mental illness or a physical disability, it didn't matter. We were told it could have been us, could happen to us or we could have a child like that and how would we feel if people were laughing at them or making assumptions about what they may do.
I believe education is the key to changing peoples attitudes but that is not as simple as it sounds, especially if you are trying to educate people about something they cannot see or comprehend. We pick up most of the things we do from the people we are surrounded by as children and children can be very cruel. The problem is, how do you educate them, when their parents already have the same attitude? Children tend to believe that their parents would never hurt them or lie to them (I know this is not always the case) so, when they hear their parents saying that someone is a nutter because they have that bipolar thing, they believe them.
Maybe another name for it would help. Like when "mongle" became downs syndrome. The trouble with the term mental illness is that it covers such a wide range of disorders from, eating disorders, psychosis, bipolar, anxiety, OCD, depression, the list is exhaustive and so are the extremes in the symptoms and behaviour of the sufferers. The word "mental" conjours up all kinds of images of things we should be afraid of. Something has to be done to change this. So maybe getting rid of the phrase mental illness and calling each illness or disorder by it's proper name would help. It won't solve the stigma problem overnight but, maybe as people learn that someone is bipolar or that they suffer from depression or whatever, they will see that they are not someone you need to be afraid of, they will learn that what they previously thought, was in fact far from the truth. I believe that learning the truth about mental health problems will make a big difference. Statistically, drug and alcohol abusers are more likely to commit serious offences than people with mental health problems. Knowing the truth and learning from it will also make a difference, but sadly I believe that there will always be people who, when confronted with something they don't understand will stick a label on it and make up what they don't know and stigmatise.
As well as removing the stigma we need to improve the mental health laws. They have been left wide open to interpretation. They are fine for people who suffer mild to moderate mental health problems but, when they suffer a problem that will lead them to lose capacity from time to time, sadly the law lets them down. My aim is to change that too. Below you will see a draft copy of my petition. Take action and sign the petition using this link.http://www.causes.com/causes/810748-stop-over-medicating-mental-health-patients