Stigma of mental illness and ways of diminishing it :: Learning experiences :: Reblog

stigma-fig-1The relationship between psychiatry and the advocacy movement is not a one-way street. In the past three years, these are the learning experiences that the author has encountered at advocates’ meetings:

  • an architect objecting to her work colleagues’ constant references to a psychiatric unit they were designing as a “nut house” or “psycho depot”

  • an insurance executive, with a remote history of mental illness, challenging the loading of his insurance policy – by his own firm

  • a nurse, following an episode of depression, insisting on returning to the intensive care unit and not, as suggested, to a convalescence ward

  • a medical student challenging the Dean to show the same flexibility with mental illness as he had previously shown with physical disability

  • a teacher with bipolar disorder encouraging the schools’ board to include information on this illness on the curriculum

  • a footballer insisting his team play the local psychiatric unit

  • a newsagent offering to keep newspaper cuttings to facilitate a local initiative on negative media coverage of mental health issues

  • a parent’s description of services as “supermarket psychiatry”

  • a man who had recovered from an episode of depression, objecting to a public education campaign that would include schizophrenia and depression together: “Why drag depression down to the level of the gutter?”

  • a consultant psychiatrist, on hearing an articulate account of schizophrenia from a woman living with the illness, “Then she couldn”t be schizophrenic”.

    [excerpted from

    Peter Byrne


  1. These are great examples of the need to continually challenge ourselves, in order to reject cynicism and stale thinking. And also to not take advice at face value, when better alternatives exist.


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