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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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  • Dec 7 2011: I think we begin but not differenciating between diseases of the mind and of the body. Very few people would fault someone that is stricken with a brain tumor or a genetic disease. We must educate people to understand that illnesses of the brain are just as much under or out of our control as those of the body.
    • Dec 16 2011: I agree that this is a critical area (i.e. no differentiation between diseases of the mind and diseases of the body) to educate people about. Current research shows that there is can be physical causes for depression. I used to tell my son, who suffered from depression, that I believe we all have elements of depression: some of us suffer greatly and some not so much, and everything in between. I like to use the analogy to eye sight: some people have very good, nearly perfect, eye sight. Some people have good eye sight and don't need glasses, but their eye sight is not as good as those with near perfect vision. And so it goes along a continuum ... and somewhere along this continuum, we cross the boundary into people who need glasses, and then people who need stronger glasses, and then finally, people who have no eye sight at all - they are blind.

      And so it is with mental illness - everybody "has it" to some extent, but in some of us it is so weak that it really doesn't affect our daily lives.

      I also wonder if the terms we use need to change: "mental illness" - there is a LOT of negative baggage associated with that term. If someone needs glasses, we don't say that they have a "vision illness" - we don't even say they have a "vision disorder" but perhaps we could.

      We need to talk in terms of "mental health." It is a term that can apply to us all, that some of us have more of it than others. But if we use a term that applies to everyone, perhaps the stigma can be lessened.

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