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How Can We Get Them To Understand?

As you know, not everybody understands mental illness. For example, when a student with a mental disability seeks special accommodations from their professor they are overlooked or not taken seriously (I heard of this situation from an on-line discussion group).

Another more common instance is telling someone in the workforce that a person needs accommodations due to mental illness. Many employers do not understand mental illness, so they try to avoid the situation all together by firing or encouraging the individual with mental illness to quit (another situation I learned of through an on-line discussion group).

Once, while psychotic and not aware of my mental illness, I was questioned by the police and sent home with family. However, if the police had been trained in mental illness like how to spot individuals with mental illness, I could have been treated sooner.

Some people do not think mental illness exists. How can we get them to understand?

1) I think mental illness education should be mandatory for teachers and employers, this way people will be more sensitive to individuals with mental illness. The state can make such programs mandatory by enforcing it through funding opportunities. Make schools and employers have a certain percentage of people with mental disabilities take advantage of their services and jobs. As a result, there will be less stereotypes and stigma attached to mental illness; and less students will feel discouraged and less employees will feel discriminated against.

2)Mental illness education should be taught in middle school as a part of the health education curriculum, just like STDs, sex education, and drug-free programs. This information, when taught earlier before the age of the onset of mental illness, will help people understand that something is wrong and that they should seek a professional health care provider for diagnosis.

3)Train police on how to spot individuals with mental illness. Then, more people with mental illness will get treatment.

What are some other ways we can get them to understand mental illness?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada). Also, visit Embracing My Mind for open group discussion on various topics concerning mental illness and life.


Elizabeth A. said…
Maybe even some kind of PSA type efforts showing mental illness is more than that homeless crazy lady on the corner screaming random obscenities. It's people who seem "normal."

It takes many forms and I think the population should be aware everyone knows someone with mental illness statistically. Anorexia is a mental illness just like schizophrenia for example. Understanding is a step towards destigmatization.
You've made some very valid points. Education is vital. I've heard all kinds of statements said about the mentally ill that were made out of ignorance. I think we have a long way to go. It wasn't long ago that the mentally ill were just locked up somewhere and left to disappear from society.
K.C. Jones said…
I've had tons and tons of problems with receiving the appropriate mental health care and accomodations from college, especially from GCSU, though Berry College was pretty bad too. If you've got an eating disorder (or any other mental illness), save yourself some trouble and do NOT attend GCSU. Research your illness and your college and figure out which college will help your recovery the most. Hint: it won't be GCSU in Milledgeville!
Elizabeth A. said…
Hi, KC. UGA alum here. I'll have to say I had my best therapist in college. And if you were a more complex case, they would refer you to another doctor in Athens. You'd think there would be some leftover pdocs in Milledgeville. Wasn't there a mental facility there at one point? Anyway...

UGA was priced decently if your insurance didn't cover mental health costs. That needs to be addressed. I have to pay to see my psychiatrist, but not my gyno. The pdoc is way more important in my world and I'm thankful I can afford it whenever I need to go.
mb said…
Hello, I posted a previous comment. I thought you were another blogger, I linked to this site from somewhere else. The sentiment behind my previous post is the same, but eludes to things that would not be relvant to you. I wanted to tell you that by writing about schizophrenia you are bravely bringing a face to the disorder. Schizoprhenia may be a diagnosis but is not a definition. By bringing awarenes you are reducing stigma. I am in basic neuroscience, studying schizorphrenia. By reading blogs such as yours, you bring a reality to the face of schizophrenia that is not present in reading research articles. Thank you for bravely blogging! You are yourself raising awareness and bringing education. Small steps do make a difference.
Valash said…
Elizabeth A.
That would be nice, this way people will be more familar with mental illness.

Anonynmous Drifter,
I am glad those days are over.

K.C. Jones,
Thank you for the warning, I'll do some research on college mental health departments before I make a decision to go back to school.

Your comment made me feel really good, like I am reaching out to people and teaching that mental illness is not bad, and we can overcome it together.

Thank you for all of your comments,
Lady_Amanda said…
I think the problem is that we "blend" in so well. A high functioning person can do just as well as a "normal" indiviual. People that are stable on their meds. and are taking care of themselves, should stand up and give a voice. I say this because as a high functioning person I have had my moments where I was, let's say not as high functioning.

Your right about work. I was working retail one summer while off on college break. I didn't even have a moment of not functioning, it was just I had made friends with one of the supervisors. And you know what? Me and my big mouth had to tell her that I had sudicial tendices the summer before. So you know what? The head boss doesn't put me on the schedule for the next week. I call and ask what the problem is and she says, I quote, "We don't want sucidial people working with us."

Anyway, I am with you, girl. We need more education on mental illness. We aren't FREAKS!

Aral said…
Can you mention the URL of the online discussion groups that you are talking about them.

Valash said…

The online chat groups where I learned of a few different situations is and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Sandy said…
This are always interesting topics, however I think expecting the police to be a part of treatment, or recognizing things so people get treatment is out of wack, and frankly pretty inappropiate. There job is policing. Not being doctors or care givers. We don't expect doctors to be police and so the reverse doesn't make sense to me.

Teachers do have a fair amount of training surrounding psychological issues with regard to childhood development. They all take mandatory psychology classes. Beyond that you have the school counselors with more training who's job is more directed to that. Teacher's primary job is to teach, if they're spending time practicing psychology there will be less teaching going on.

Mixing lines/professions really isn't a good idea.

My daughter has a degree in psychology, which she had before she went into Teaching, so she has multiple degrees and more training than most. She often see's to it that children receive extra counseling, testing where necessary in order to get the help they need.

popped in from blogupp
ACDesign said…
YOu are so right. Education is the only answer. I am excited to show you my video documentary soon. I hope that schools will incorporate this video into a classroom setting. I would love for the subject matter to spark discussion. I cover a lot of topics involving stigma in this video. The only section I want to build on is where I show real people overcoming mental illness. I hope to inspire others to share their story. People must come out of the shadows. Just like many are coming out of the closet...people should not be afraid to shout out loud that they are in control of their mental illness, not the other way around.
My son came to display parnoid scizophrenia symptoms from a physical source. So the system refuses to label him mentally ill. He was put on Risperdal, and refused to take it. Refusing to take his medication has been an ongoing problem.
Anonymous said…
In response to Sandy's comment, I would refer her to look up CIT Training (Crisis Intervention Team). Palm Beach County, FL, now has over 800 CIT trained officers and first responders and it makes a big difference for people with mental illness in crisis. CIT officers are able to diffuse escalating situations and people are either taken to mental health facilities where they can get the help they need or calmed down -- not taken to jail where they don't belong! I would like to ask Sandy if she thinks people with mental illness should be in jail or in a hospital? Education is the key to overcoming ignorance.

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