Letter to the Editor

Eliminate stigma

San Luis ObispoDecember 5, 2012 

A prosecutor says at trial that the accused who — with no motive — brutally stabbed an innocent man 30 times is “antisocial” but not “insane”; a newspaper publishes every incident at the local mental hospital, no matter how minor; college students wear sweatshirts labeled “my voices tell me”; the university gym is “the asylum,” where fans are “maniacs”; a popular “no-spin” celebrity calls people “loons” and “lunatics.”

Mental illness is a treatable sickness if we eliminate its stigma. At any snapshot in time, 5 percent of us have some serious form of this disease; over a lifetime that percentage increases tenfold. The mentally ill do not threaten us; they are us — our children, parents, and spouses. Stigma is the number one reason those who have mental illness or PTSD deny it or do not seek treatment.

Real hope for conquering this disease, if not found in public media or our universities, must have more common roots. Hope must spring eternal from us.

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