Mental health education lacking

‘Phil Slater, the unit’s nurse manager, explains that mental health issues remain stigmatized in the community.’ (Training boost for mental health clients, 27 December, Caymanian Compass).

Though I do not doubt there are people who stigmatize mental illnesses, I do doubt including the above statement in a story aids anyone. That it occurs from a person in a mental health profession is sad. But as he has been taught, so he teaches.

‘Phil Slater, the unit’s nurse manager, explains that mental health issues are not yet understood in the community,’ refocuses his statement, and leads to the question: why not? A question journalism seems not to ask. The mask of ‘stigma’ does its job very well.

To respond to the question: If we are not well informed, who is to inform us and why have they not? Certainly the mental health professions have existed long enough for them to educate us. They have not. Nor have we wanted to be educated. It is an interesting contract we have exacted from mental health professionals: they will not inform us, and we will not ask them to.

Imagine that contract applied to cancers, heart diseases, all physical illnesses. Were we to have enforced it, our responses to physical health would mirror those of our responses to mental health. We would be in the Middle Ages, superstition triumphing.

Harold A. Maio –Advisory Board,American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Ft Myers, Florida

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