Should we promote mental health or combat mental illness?
Can we do both?
In this bonus episode, Eric and Tony engage in critical dialogue about the purpose and priorities of mental health advocacy. Eric leans more in the direction of such groups as Mental Health America promoting mental health by combating stigma, as represented in this quote:
This year marks Mental Health America‘s 70th year celebrating Mental Health Month! In 2019 we are expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, as we explore the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness. (from the Mental Health America, May newsletter)
Tony, on the other hand, sides squarely with groups and individuals who believe the best, and perhaps only way to promote well-being is to combat serious mental illness through improved treatment and rigorous research.
May is being celebrated as Mental Health Awareness Week or Month (MHAW or MHAM). In celebration, well-intentioned advocates are hosting events they think reduce the “stigma” of mental illness. But they are inadvertently perpetuating it….
.. MHAW public service announcements never feature the homeless psychotic, eating out of garbage cans, sleeping in cardboard homes, and living with festering wounds under layer after layer of filthy clothes, or those locked behind bars or in institutions. Why? The stigma advocates fear that showing the most seriously ill will create stigma. But trying to gain sympathy for mental illness by only displaying the highest functioning, is like trying to gain support for ending hunger by only showing the well-fed. (from “Why I Don’t Celebrate Mental Health Month” by DJ Jaffe) Jaffe is Executive Director of Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill.
Which side are you on? Is it possible to be on both? How can we learn from each other? Listen and see.