Stigma of mental health patients
SIR, – With reference to your article “Psychiatric patient freed to walk out and kill friend” (December 3) – those of us working in mental health do not “free” anyone, but “discharge” them, as we run hospitals not prisons.
The use of such language perpetuates the stigma that psychiatric hospitals are just like prisons where dangerous people should be locked up to be “freed”.
The article appears to infer that anyone “getting messages from God” (which the patient in this case apparently “warned” nurses about) must automatically be a danger to other folk.
While also presumably being offensive to many religious folk, there is, of course, no evidence to support such a direct link.
Media reporting can have a huge influence on public attitudes towards mental health.
The charity Mind has developed excellent guidelines on sensitive and responsible coverage of mental health issues.