Jo Mueller investigates how parents could hold the key to tackling mental health stigma
|Alien? Or simply struggling? Views about|
mental health are formed early.
Photo: nadja robot
When it comes to attitudes to mental health, things are getting worse. Despite the high-profile campaigns, stigma and discrimination against people with mental health problems seem to be on the rise. Part of the reason may be that our campaigns are promoting the wrong message. The way we often address stigma is to promote the idea that mental health problems are illnesses. The rationale is noble. Rather than give the impression that someone is weak or blameworthy, isn’t it surely better to say they are sick?
The danger of this is that the idea of something going wrong with people’s brains can be scary and alienating. Put this together with the ‘1 in 4’ idea - that one in four of us will suffer ‘mental illness’ at some point - and it can add up to a frightening message: there’s a dangerous disease out there that might strike at us any time.