Reducing the stigma of mental illness has been very effective in helping to educate people about the realities, not the myths, of brain illnesses that affect ones thinking, mood, and behavior.
NAMI has been one of the leading organizations in "stigma-busting", taking exception to insensitive and cruel representations of people with psychiatric illnesses. "Crazy Eddie's", "Psycho-Sam", and last year's "Crazy for You" bear (complete with straight-jacket) are examples of the types of things that they speak out against. Interestingly, these are usually marketing schemes. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company took a lot of heat last year for their "crazy bear", but did not back down (or, at least, not until after the last bear was sold).
'Tis the season. Halloween seems to always bring out the stigma and stereotypes, with insane asylum haunted houses and Cincinnati's PsychoPath, an outdoor "trail of fright."
Folks who speak out about this are often derided as being party poopers or too politically correct. But c'mon, would folks really set up a haunted house filled with AIDS- or cancer-related metaphors ("Look out for Leukemia Lucifer and Candida Casper").
Anyway, I thought this was a good article that brought attention to the issue. The worst one they mention is the newspaper article about the fire at the psychiatric hospital... headlined "Roasted Nuts".
From other blogs:
from Psychlinks Blog: "Recently, I commented on a painfully misguided and misinformed call to remove the term “schizophrenia” as a diagnosis on the grounds that it might be stigmatizing..."
from GNIF Brain Blogger: "Another serious effect of stigmatization is its potential to erode the self-esteem of individuals with disorders. When an individual expects and fears rejection by society, feelings of self-esteem and self-worth will be compromised, and one research study empirically proved a connection between the level of stigma perceived by individuals with disorder and their feelings of self-esteem."
from Write Out Of Depression: "What can you do next? Check out the links listed on the right side of this page for information, encouragement, ideas on creating art and literature, and finding a support group, good doctor, or therapist. All of these resources can help you break out of the internal stigma you may be carrying."