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.