I wouldn’t soil my hands by getting overly involved in any battle against the stigma of ‘mental illness’. Why?
1. The aim of mental health treatment should be the restoration of mental health, and I haven’t yet heard that there was any stigma associated with mental health.
2. The idea of stigma is a reinforcement of the biological medical model of psychiatry to which I don’t happen to subscribe.
3. It is my view that chronicity is acquired, and that it doesn’t have to apply to what are commonly referred to as ‘mental disorders’.
Negative outcomes are easy to come by if you want them. I just wonder. Why would you want them?
I tend to see what we call ‘mental illness’ as a failure track. Mental health, on the other hand, is a success track. If a person is on the track that leads to failure, why would that person not want to change to the track that leads to success?
Although success and failure are, of course, relative matters, the question has to be asked, which description is the most pervasive?
This makes treatment a matter of working on two aspects of the problem, the social realm and the personal realm. Social and personal successes do not need to be, by any means, synonymous.
No individual was ever ‘mentally ill’ so much as groups of individuals display harmful ways of interacting with other groups of individuals, and some of these interrelationships we might call ‘unhealthy’.
That’s the social realm. So often, as far as the personal realm goes, all it takes is a change of perspective to see a change in the world. Sometimes such changes in perspective are needed.
That’s stigma, that’s one thing. Civil and human rights are another. Psychiatric oppression occurs even after the person in crisis has gotten over whatever crisis he or she had, assuming that the person was in crisis in the first place.
Society still has a long way to go when it comes to assimilating, reintegrating and utilizing those of its members who are looked upon as ‘different’.