The Stigma Of Mental Illness

All through history, mental illness has been present. But only until just recently when we have begun to fully understand what it really is has the ability to treat and cure mental illness been available. Not all mental illnesses can be cured, but we have made strides in medical advances, even in the last 30 years. Yet despite these advances in medical science, there is one thing that continues to linger, and that is a major stigma of mental illnesses.

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Columbia University and past President of the American Psychiatric Association, gives a TEDTalk on the stigmas associated with mental illness. He explains that we all are affected by these stigmas, whether we have a mental illness of not. We are all affected, and sometimes perpetuate these stigmas, yet mental illnesses are so common we all know someone who has a mental illness. So shouldn't we be more willing to treat them much like we treat physical illnesses?

If the stigma of mental illness was dropped, a surprising number of people with mental illnesses would receive the treatments they need. This is a belief Dr. Lieberman has and in his talk he explains ways to go about increasing awareness and providing treatment to those in need. But ultimately in the end, Dr. Lieberman says that our governments need know that these treatments are worth funding, and they do work when applied correctly.

At the end of his talk he extends a call to all who are listening. He asks that "while science and medicine continues to pursue the causes and cures of mental illness, I ask that you join me to find the heart and muster the will to reach out to all people, particularly people who may show signs of mental illness, to raise awareness of the public, of the government, and of the media, to end the stigma of mental illness."

- Chris Sommers