Time to remove the stigma
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.