|OpenMindsOpenDoors is an MHAPA initiative aimed at ending discrimination against people with mental illnesses. Approximately one in five people in this country live with a mental illness. More»|
There is no single answer to this question because there are many mental illnesses, just as there are many physical illnesses. Many are believed to have biological causes, just like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but some are caused by a person's environment and experiences. The major distinguishing feature is that they are medical conditions which affect thought processes. The severity and duration of a mental illness vary from person to person.
The term consumer is used to describe people diagnosed with, and receiving treatment for, a mental illness.
Recovery means different things to different people. It can mean being able to hold down a job. It can mean going back to school. Or, it can mean having a close relationship with family and friends. Whether recovery comes from drugs, from traditional therapy, from alternative treatments, or from prayer, one common theme is a feeling of responsibility for one's life and a sense of control over one's problems.
Stigma is an attitude, discrimination an action. When we stigmatize someone we attach negative attributes to them which can discredit and disgrace them.1 (Eighty percent of people with a mental illness report overhearing hurtful or offensive comments regarding mental illness.) The shame that comes with stigma can prevent people with mental illnesses from seeking treatment. And, stigma can lead to discrimination. Not getting a job or being turned down for a promotion — because of a mental illness. Stigma is wrong, but discrimination is illegal.
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