What’s wrong with “Stigma Busting” Campaigns?

They sell psychiatric drugs.
They sow confusion.
They aren’t really about having an honest discussion.
They tend to take a non-recovery oriented, or medical model, approach.
They excuse bad behavior.
They are doctrinaire – based on opinion and pseudo-science rather than on fact and hard science.
They distract from REAL oppression concerns.
They call for cosmetic rather than substantial change.
They are mostly about begging for increased funding.

I’ve heard people talk about “stigma” as a term that has been co-opted from the mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor movement by the mental health establishment and the drug industry, and that’s exactly what it is. “Stigma” is now said to be behind some people’s reluctance to enter the mental health system while the numbers of people within that system are growing by leaps and bounds. Do we really need more people claiming they have a ‘mental illness” than the many that we’ve already got? “Mental illness” labeling, according to reports, has reached epidemic proportions.

If there’s any stigma involved it’s much less a matter of how people are viewed in the media than of how they are actually treated in the world. A psychiatric history can make gaining anything more than substandard employment hard to impossible. Those records are also frequently used against people in courts of law, and they are currently used to violate the 2nd amendment right to bear arms of people who have been institutionalized at any time in the recent past.

The end of prejudice and discrimination begins with an end to forced treatment. No other branch of medical science imprisons people, and then calls this imprisonment of people an acceptable medical practice. The records associated with this maltreatment are only necessary so long as psychiatric treatment is akin to criminal prosecution, and the authorities feel they need to keep some kind of permanent record. This permanent record would be a record of what amounts to mistreatment if this group of people were covered by the US constitution.

The problem is not media misrepresentation, the problem is actual mistreatment. Any member of the staff at a mental health facility can abuse a patient, and know they will get off with little more than a knuckle rapping. This mistreatment would not be taking place if people within the mental health system were treated like anything more than second class citizens. You can get away with harming and murdering a fraction of a human being, slavery taught us that, you just can’t, as a rule, get away with murdering a human being whom the US constitution protects.

Let’s restore to people in the mental health system those rights we’ve accorded to everybody else. When this is done, you won’t have people complaining about any “stigma” because slandering, abusing, and violating any of the people who have been through that system will be a prosecutable offense the way it is with the rest of the population. When they are not governed by the same laws as the general run of humanity, and when they are governed by stricter laws instead, you know there has been foul play. There has been foul play, and it is that foul play that continues.