Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nuts to stigmatize the mentally ill


…HA’s father was a psychiatrist (yes, that explains so much), but she isn’t any hipper to the ins and outs of mental disorder than anyone else.

…John Faherty recently interviewed Kathy Bashor, a former “mental patient” who is now a mentor at ValueOptions, the company that handles mental services for Medicaid in Arizona.

…She emphasizes that mental illnesses are “real” biological illnesses based in the brain. You can’t get over them with willpower. They also are not related to character or intelligence…they just are.

…Mental illnesses vary in severity. The most serious and disabling kinds affect almost 6% of adults and as many as 9% of children.

…Mental illnesses are the leading cause of disability and lost years of productive life.

…Treatments are pretty effective. Between 70% and 90% of sufferers have a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life if treated.

…How does Bashor react to the words “crazy” or “nuts”? She says she doesn’t care, but that it bothers others in the field.

…You are very alone with it, she says. You are different—you are always different.

…Secondly, she says, there is a sadness. You lose so much of your life.

…She did not form friendships when she was younger and so ill, she says. So now she has few.

…Much of this can be avoided with progressive steps to deal with these problems.

…For more info, check with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. www.nami.org.

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