Monday, January 6, 2014

Will 2014 Be the Year of Mental Illness Awareness?

Friends shared two article with me recently that call for mental illness awareness in 2014. This is exciting!

In First Up, Mental Illness. The Next Topic is Up To You, Nicholas Kristof says mental illness is the issue that needs more awareness and advocacy in 2014. Kristof states:

"So, if we want to tackle a broad range of social pathologies and inequalities, we as a society have to break taboos about mental health. There has been progress, and news organizations can help accelerate it. But too often our coverage just aggravates the stigma and thereby encourages more silence."

Kristof advocates for more truthful and comprehensive reporting about mental health, increasing proper care for mental illness, and talking about the realities of how prevalent mental illness is and that it is treatable and not to be feared.

Then in the article A Phrase to Renounce in 2014: "The Mentally Ill," Carey Goldberg eloquently lays out an argument for why we should no longer call people "the mentally ill" and how we need to use person first language. Saying "the mentally ill" implies that people with mental illness are separate than everyone else, other, which increases fear and misunderstanding. Goldberg notes something he learned from people with mental illness (peer specialists):

"Some newly minted peer specialists sat me down and re-educated me about the wrongness of using 'the mentally ill' and the rightness of using 'people first' language. A person is not defined by a diagnosis, they said. If you have a mental illness it doesn't define you any more than your heart disease defines you if you're a cardiac patient. A person is a person who happens to have depression or schizophrenia; the correct term is 'people with mental illness.'"

Both of these articles are well worth the read. I really do hope that mental illness advocacy is a focus of 2014. We have a long way to go until those of us with mental illness are not feared, victimized, hated, left untreated, and daily made fun of in our society.


Rev. Katie


  1. Unfortunately, the words written on a red background are very hard to decipher. And now the President (or Congress?) has passed or is going to pass a Bill to keep guns out of "the hands of the mentally ill." I wonder how they'll judge who is mentally ill as opposed to all of those who hate America and will do anything to bring us down. I found you through my friend, Sarah Henderson, and I have bipolar spirit, too. Florence Boughner

    1. Thanks for your comment Florence. I did not know the text was all weird. Does it look better now?

      Also, from what I read of that bill it only applies to people who have been involuntarily admitted to a psych ward in the last few years or something. Not that it is such a great policy but it does at least have limits to it. The majority of people with mental illness have not ever been involuntarily admitted and then even if you have been, after a few years it no longer applies.