Time to re­move the stigma

Modern Healthcare - - OPINIONS | EDITORIALS - —The Jack­son (Tenn.) Sun

From Aurora, Colo., to New­town, Mass., to the ap­par­ent sui­cide of coun­try singer Mindy Mc­Cready, the is­sue of men­tal ill­ness has be­come a high­pro­file topic. Time af­ter time, in tragedy af­ter tragedy, we find peo­ple who have lost hope, be­come se­verely de­pressed, or who have dis­played sig­nif­i­cant aber­rant be­hav­ior and signs of men­tal ill­ness. What can be done to in­ter­vene in th­ese cir­cum­stances be­fore tragedy strikes? In most in­stances, in­ter­ven­tion will have to come from fam­ily and close friends, and be sup­ported though lo­cal com­mu­nity re­sources.

Re­peat­edly, we read news sto­ries where peo­ple close to the lat­est tragedy report they were aware of clear signs of men­tal ill­ness. Too of­ten, they failed to act, acted too late or were un­suc­cess­ful in their at­tempts to help.

Part of the prob­lem with get­ting peo­ple the help they need is the stigma as­so­ci­ated with men­tal ill­ness. The re­cent at­ten­tion be­ing paid to men­tal health of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to move be­yond neg­a­tive im­ages and stereo­types, and to put more em­pha­sis on treat­ing men­tal ill­ness as any other med­i­cal prob­lem.

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