Stigma of men­tal health pa­tients

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - AGENDA -

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.

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