Tag: labeling and stigma
I pray for a rich life, away from the fear of job insecurity, coercive medicine, and false labels. The question still remains as to how to handle societal fears about the ‘mentally ill’. My blessed family are like hypervigilance officers on the watch for the slightest behavioural aberration.
At best, the underpinnings of the ‘pill shaming’ accusation are misguided. At worst, they represent a concerted effort on the part of the current power structure to use us against ourselves (and they don’t need any more help). It’s the same old story packaged up as if it were something new and ultra woke.
Over and over I've seen the aftermath of that ritual of receiving and internalizing a lifelong, pathologizing diagnosis. I don't think we can underestimate the uncanny power of receiving such proclamations about our personhood by people sanctioned by our culture to serve as arbiters of truth.
Public perception of mental health stigma does not entirely reflect a reality that exists. Many of you reading this that have experienced truly negative reactions from others (due to mental health concerns and/or treatment) may be angered or offended by this proposition. However, no one (especially myself) is saying that stigma is not a serious concern that doesn’t need to be addressed. It is. Although in some ways I do feel that people can seek out treatment with less apprehension today than decades ago, there is no doubt that many still experience negative reactions (intentionally or unintentionally) from what others perceive in them.
Experiencing emotional pain is a necessary part of life. Emotional pain often contains valuable lessons to help us on our journeys. We need to make sure we are not numbing our hearts to those that are hurting. We need to de-stigmatize the struggles, joys and pains that come with being human. We need to not just mindlessly pursue happiness - though we might think of that as an inalienable right - and avoid pain. We need to do the only thing that brings true joy: embrace all of life and each other, as we experience together all that makes us human.
A new study in JAMA reveals that, on average, 25% of beginning physicians meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Thomas Schwenk, added: "Everybody asks me, because of some of my prior studies, should we have more intense work in diagnosing depression in students? Of course, the answer is 'yes,' but how do you go about that without further stigmatizing them, further labeling them, further singling them out to even greater stigma? It's not just an issue of, 'Let's make better diagnoses and let's provide better treatment'; it’s more complicated than that."