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Ben Maudlin

Registered Nurse, Prince of Wales Hospital

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How do we break down the Stigma attached to those people who have mental health or psychiatric issue?

Current research suggests that one in three people will develop a mental illness in their lives (WHO 2011). Psychiatry and psychological treatment is moving away from treating the disease and towards treatment of the patient as a person. Instead of a person being a "schizophrenic" they are now someone with schizophrenia. However this subtle adjustment hasn't translated into the general public. People still shy away from or are scared by people who are mentally unwell. This causes further isolation to a person and can remove some important social supports.

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  • Nov 29 2011: The unfortunate fact is that most people who do recover well and are high functioning people in society are too scared to tell people about their past of being ill exactly for the reasons you state. Also many wish to forget about it and pretend it never happened. Others usually are not so lucky at recover to a pre-morbid state again, so people would not view them in the way that would be beneficial. It is a difficult one for sure. I like your analogy about laughing about people with cancer, it is true. I think peer work is becoming more and more recognised helping staff like me in mental health sector to have some idea of the experiences people may have and insight into them being like you say just 'normal' people with an illness. I believe that more work like this should be done like in schools and University's to get people more aware, not just for professionals in the Health field.
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      Dec 1 2011: Couldn't agree more, this is something that needs to extend beyond the health profession but I see it as a good place to start. There are so many professionals that I meet on a daily basis who are legitimately scared of people with any kind of mental disorder, regardless of what their condition is or how well treated it is. I'm not saying that the idea shouldn't be spread further but those closest is a great place to start.

      Spreading the idea so that it reaches further I agree, teaching children in schools will have a huge impact. I remember in high school my teacher bringing in a man with HIV/AIDs into the class to talk to us about the disease and how it effects your life. Seeing how this man was a perfectly normal person, changed the way I perceived the disease and continues to, to this day. Likewise my parents had friends who were gay or lesbian growing up and I never thought anything of it until I got to school and saw how other people thought homosexuals were "strange" or "unnatural" and I could never get this because to me the people that I had grown up with weren't any different. I believe this would hold true for teaching children about mental health. If we learnt that it is just a disease then we wouldn't be scared. Instead we have been made to believe that it is the person that is "weird" or "strange". Rather than trying to help them we in fact hinder their recovery.

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