The Stigma of Mental Health

Earlier this week, Dr. Aaron Carroll linked to a post at Gawker by a woman whose son has extreme mental health issues, and he got a ton of feedback. Many were upset by the post, mainly because you felt the mother had done terrible harm to her son by making his issues public.

Quoted from his December 20th blog, he says “while I understand your concerns, they make me sad. After all, if her son had asthma, or hemophilia, or cystic fibrosis, I’d wager none of you would have had these concerns. But mental health carries a stigma, and therefore many people believe that this mother did wrong by talking about it in public. I’m reminded how people used to feel about HIV and AIDS years ago. It had to be kept secret, because people would react so poorly about it if they found out that those who were infected often carried the burden in silence. It was only after an enormous amount of education and outreach that people carrying the virus could feel free to be open about it. Even so, things are not perfect today. I know any number of people who are still misinformed. Even more people treat mental illness this way. It’s an illness, and it needs treatment, and we should neither shun those who are affected by it nor those who would talk openly about it.” Read the rest of his blog.