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Hosts: Scott LaMar and Mary Wilson

Smart Talk: Mental illness awareness and stigmas

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 26, 2014 12:53 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, March 27, 2014:

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One in five Americans suffers from some form of mental illness.  Fear, rejection, discrimination, and stigmatization prevent nearly two-thirds of individuals with a diagnosable mental illness from seeking the proper treatment.

Often the mentally ill aren’t aware or aren’t confident that they can recover.    

Stigmas and mental illness go hand in hand. Stigmas create poor and often misconstrued judgments of individuals suffering from mental illness.  Stigmas are often associated with a lack of understanding and lack of education.

Stigmas and lack of awareness lead to inadequate medical coverage, violence, prejudice, and discrimination against individuals battling mental illness; therefore leaving them feeling helpless, rejected, and at risk for suicide.

How do we change the stigmas against the mentally ill and encourage them to seek help?  What resources are available?  How is the community getting involved to promote awareness of mental illness and its stigmas?

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we’ll answer these questions and discuss mental illness with Julia Mallory, Executive Director of The Mental Health Association of the Capital Region and Lynn Keltz, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association. 

For more information on mental health illness, awareness, or ways to seek help visit www.mahcr.org or www.pmhca.org

Health insurance is available for those suffering from a mental illness through the Affordable Care Act.  Visit the Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov

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Julia Mallory & Lynn Keltz

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Comments: 9

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-27 08:42

    Nick emails:

    In the 80s and 90s, a movement towards closing institutions aimed at housing and treating the mentally ill began. Today, the consensus is group home placement and an attempt to provide an environment that mimicked "normal" home environments. We are quickly discovering this is not a realistic solution for a large population of the mentally ill. As a result, our prisons are full of the mentally ill and intellectually disabled, who need the care provided at an inpatient facility such as state run hospitals. Unfortunately, these institutions are all but extinct, so those in prison end up being faced with the following dilemma: await a bed opening in the hospital where they can receive treatment they desperately need, or complete the terms of their sentence and return to the general public. The problem is, in the vast majority of cases, the sentence is much shorter than the term they would face in prison awaiting a hospital bed. What does your panel believe is the avenue to dealing with this issue?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-27 08:47

    Sarah emails:

    FAMILY TO FAMILY CLASSES SUPPORT PERSONS WITH LOVED ONES W/ MENTAL ILLNESS

    CUMBERLAND/PERRY COUNTY CARLISLE F2F CLASSES BEGIN APRIL 1 = CALL ANN @
    249-6318

    F2F HARRISBURG CLASSES = CALL DAUPHIN CNTY @ 233-1164

  • Katy Clair img 2014-03-27 09:21

    I first want to mention Aevidum, a student initiated group that began at a local high school in Lancaster county... Look it up -they are getting the word out to kids to "watch out for each other" and to get help if you need it! Second Wind is a program that sets a student with monetary help to get counseling if they need it.

    You were discussing internationally what the statistics are for people in mental health. Hans Christian Anderson's story -the Snow Queen tries to explain mental health in terms a child might understand and now the Movie "Frozen".. The Bible talks about mental illness on many occasions old and New Testament.. It is part of the human condition. I am so happy we are starting to erase the stigma and start to address something that is part of being human.

    • Lynn PMHCA img 2014-03-27 11:09

      Katy Clair, thank you for your thoughtful response. There is also a group called Active Minds at many colleges and universities that was founded by a family of a young woman who completed suicide. They provide education about mental health, combat stigma and provide support to fellow students.

  • Lynn PMHCA img 2014-03-27 11:06

    Response to Nick - There is not a direct correlation in Pennsylvania between the number of people with mental illness incarcerated and the number of people living in the community as a result of state hospital closures. As we said on the show, about 25% of people in the general population have a diagnosis at any given time. Some may end up in prison due to behaviors triggered by their illness or because they otherwise made bad choices in life. We believe that people are more likely to attain recovery by being part of their communities as long as there are adequate services, adequately funded, to meet their needs. Follow-up studies after hospital closures have shown this to be true. An avenue that would help deal with this issue is a restoration of community mental health funds (there was a 10% cut two years ago) and a better understanding of mental health and people's needs by policy makers. We also would like to see the funds continued that were provided to communities where state hospitals were closed. It is called CHIPPS funding. Thank you for comments and concerns.

  • Harold Maio img 2014-03-27 13:27

    ----Smart Talk: Mental illness awareness and stigmas


    There is absolute nothing smart about claiming a “stigma.” See rape/stigma, you seem to have forgotten.

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

    • Advocate img 2014-03-28 10:54

      Agreed! Stigma is not the issue preventing people with mental disorder from seeking help. I contend that the coercive nature of "treatment" is the problem. Also, claiming that one-in-four people at any given time have a brain disease without any objective evidence of disease is stigmatizing in itself. If taken at face-value, Ms. Keltz would have us believe that everyone of us either has or had a brain disease called mental illness before we develop dementias, stroke, epilepsy, Parkinsons, etc. ABSURD!!!.
      I'm not suggesting that people are not suffering--they are and they should be given the appropriate options for help, instead of being given a diagnosis after 1/2 hour intake and told they have a disease that can be fixed by medication. These "smart talkers" must be getting money from pharmaceutical companies and the federal government to promote "affordable healthcare" and a reductionist "medical model" of mental disorders. Mental disorders are not "just like heart disease" as Ms. Keltz states.

  • Advocate img 2014-03-28 07:47

    We must give up the false mantra that mental illnesses are like high blood pressure and diabetes, treatable with safe and effective medications. If only it was that simple. Just what is “the brain disease” of schizophrenia has yet to be determined. Nancy Andreasen, MD one of the “pre-eminent” researchers in the field used functional PET scans and MRI images to illustrate her theories during the 1990s “Decade of the Brain”. After more than twenty years of her searching for a “schizophrenia signature” no radiologist can make a diagnosis of schizophrenia based on an individual’s scan. There is no blood or other lab tests, either. Nor does current research support the “chemical imbalance theory” of dopamine (schizophrenia) and serotonin (depression). I like to use the following analogy: The chemical imbalance theory for headaches would postulate that brain of a headache sufferer has too little aspirin at its disposal.

    Ms. Keltz states that “one in four people” have a diagnosable brain disease. The last time I checked, the title of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, NOT DISEAESE. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency to pathologize unruly behavior in children and disturbing behavior in adults to seek to modify it with pharmaceuticals. It is well established that the “therapeutic effect” of Ritalin involves shutting down the neural pathways to the pre-frontal cortex, resulting in atrophy of the area of the brain that is only fully-developed in adulthood. It’s sad to see those children as young adults, who have become permanently-disabled by the drugs that were supposed to help them. This cavalier use of chemicals has other consequences: since the advent of “safe and effective” medications to treat the mentally ill, the average life-span of the mentally ill has decreased markedly—from 15 years less on average thirty years ago, to 25 years less, today. Obviously, the side-effect profiles of many of the new drugs are far from benign.

    As a society we have relied far too much on powerful, mind-altering drugs as if they were some kind of “magic bullet” to rid individuals of the emotional and psychological effects of physical abuse, trauma, bullying, social isolation and poverty. We have done so at the expense of ignoring the core problems and stressors of living in today’s fast-paced and “virtual” world, making a group of individuals labeled as “mentally-ill” the scapegoat, diverting our attention from the core problems and real solutions that can make our imperfect world a better place to live and grow. Contrary to media focus, individuals with mental illness are no more prone to violence than the general public, and in fact, are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. The exception is adding the presence of substance abuse, which increases the likelihood of aggressive behaviors, as it does with the general public.

    Finally, “stigma” of illness does not keep people from seeking treatment—the very real fear of having one’s civil rights removed by the courts and being treated against his or her will prevents people for seeking help . We must move from a coercive system towards one that is truly recovery-informed.

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