2 different approaches to civil rights and mental health

Prejudice and discrimination are directed against people who have done time in psychiatric institutions

Institutionalization disrupts lives. Neighborhoods often take a “not in my backyard” approach to people who have been hospitalized. Businesses screen potential employees for mental health issues. A person who has had his or her human rights violated by the mental health/illness system then finds he or she cannot gain meaningful employment. These are further human and civil rights violations that take place on top of the initial assault and imprisonment of institutionalization. Discriminatory practices take place in the housing, the employment, and the education fields. When a person has no decent employment opportunities, what remains for that person to do during the day but waste his or her time with the absurdity and hopelessness of an inane day treatment facility in what amounts to essientially little more than custodial “care”? The media slams people who have had experience in the mental health/illness system unjustly as potential mass murderers. This type of discrimination, based upon prejudice, prevents people from fully integrating into their communities, and participating in the life of those communities. Recovery is about more than the recovery of mental health; recovery is about the recovery of purpose, the recovery of relationships, the recovery of dignity, and the recovery of a life.

There is a “stigma” attached to people who have “mentally illnesses”

This goes to the heart of what the recovery movement is all about. If people can recover from what are referred to as “serious mental illnesses” so much for the notion of “stigma”. A mentally well person would not have such a “stigma” attached to him or her. There is no “stigma” attached to mental wellness. If “stigma”, on the other hand, is a matter of a failure of people to recover from mental health issues, therefore, the best you can expect is to put a good face on a bad situation, I think people are being way too severe on themselves. I think they’ve been swindled. I think they’ve bought a pack of lies. According to this approach, this person afflicted with a biologically determined genetic “predisposition” (to complicate matters further I guess) is incapable of performing at the level of the majority of people in the world, and so the best that can be expected of him or her is a change of perspective on the part of people who encounter him or her. THAT’s what countering “stigma” is all about. I’m not against “stigma” at all. I’m for recovery.

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