Friday, May 15, 2009

Stigmas Applied to Mental Illness © Megan Snider

Nothing defines the quality of life in a community more clearly than people who regard themselves, or whom the consensus chooses to regard, as mentally unwell.
--Renata Adler

The stigma society places on mental illness sometimes really leaves me speechless. I have a lot of personal stories I could tell, but I'd rather leave readers with some concrete scenarios when considering this issue.

First of all, consider this entry on Helium I just ran into today. Aparently, this is in the debate section and it is entitled "Should Mentally Ill People Be Allowed to Vote? " The title threw me for quite a loop so I clicked the link. I saw that they were conducting a vote, so I cast my vote for "yes". Out of a total of 437 votes 237 people (including me) voted "yes", while 200 voted "no".

It amazed me that there was only a difference of 37 people in determining whether the mentally ill should vote or not. Certainly we would not have this same amount of intolerance if someone posted the debate question "Should Minorities Be Allowed to Vote?" or "Should Women Be Allowed to Vote?" I find the basic premise of all of these questions to be highly insulting, unacceptable, and insensitive. I will allow you to read the "yes" and "no" debates for yourself if you so desire. I am not going to attack writers, but rather ideas, prejudices, and stigmas.

Let's look at some common myths associated with mental illnesses:

1.) People with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are usually dangerous and violent.

2.) Someone is to blame for the development of mental illness such as parents, relatives, or the person with the illness.

3.) Mentally ill people lack the willpower and courage to make themselves better.

4.) Mental illness does not strike children.

5.) Mental illness can have religious roots such as demonic possession or over-indulgence in sin.

6.) The mentally ill should be locked up.

7.) The mentally ill will never lead normal lives, hold down important jobs, marry or have children.

8.) The mentally ill will never be "normal".

I will be debunking these myths one by one in later posts-- rest assured.

© Megan Snider

*Author's Note: For the record, Helium is a great site and I have nothing against it; I am merely using an illustration of my point.

"Should Mnetally Ill People be Allowed to Vote?" (Helium)

"Fight Stigma!" (NAMI)

"Facts and Myths About Mental Illness" (Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri)

"Myths About Mental Illness" (LDS Resources on Mental Illness)

"Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness" (Euclid Hospital)


  1. Absolutely love your blog. It should be required reading. Unbelievable how ignorant people are. Maybe mental illness equal rights is the next frontier. Sounds "crazy" huh?

  2. Oh wow! Thanks. lol. Yeah, I also get tired of hearing the words "psycho", "crazy", and "looney" thrown around. :P I hope things start changing for the better. The world becomes a scary little place when you're dealing with a mental illness and a lot of people just don't get that most of the time the mentally ill are just simply scared by what's going on with them. But, some psychiatrists don't seem to understand that, either. I'm hoping things will get a lot better and soon. Thanks for reading! I appreciate your comment!