Speak of Cure, not Stigma

From Harold Maio

BY SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 12, 2015

When someone says, “There is a stigma to mental illnesses,” the proper response is, “That is a terrible thing to say, wouldn’t you rather teach someone about these illnesses, that they learn about them, that we learn, that we find answers to them?”

That is precisely what we did with breast cancer, and look at what the Susan G. Komen Foundation has accomplished. In their walks for the cure, they have attracted hundreds of millions of research dollars, and our knowledge is ever expanding because of it. We knew little about it when my Mom died of breast cancer in the 1970s. With today’s knowledge she might well have survived. 

What do we know about schizophrenia today? We know it is an illness of degree. At its most serious it leaves a person totally out of contact with reality as we know it. At its mildest, people earn doctoral degrees and teach at university. There are many degrees in between. We know it is connected to the brain, we do not yet know precisely how, what anomalies exist that might cause it. It is time we walked for the cure. We know the same of clinical depression and bipolar disorder. It is time we walked for the cure.

So please, the next time someone says to you, “There is a stigma to mental illnesses”, help them appreciate that it is time we focused on researching the cures, one step at a time, one voice at a time, and ask them to raise their voice toward finding those cures.

Harold Maio, responding to the article “Dan Rather to Speak on Mental Illness” in the Nov. 26 edition of SRQ Daily.

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