As long as I can remember I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Now that I have completed my undergrad my focus has shifted a bit but is still in the health care field. I am working towards a masters in public health and then will continue on to a master of science in physician assistant studies. I am currently working as a medical assistant at a cardiology clinic to get some direct patient care experience.
Every day I am amazed by the ignorance and intolerance health care professionals have towards the mentally ill. I guess it was my own personal ignorance to think that individuals in health care would be compassionate to all patients. I cannot count the number of times I have heard “oh that patient is crazy” or before going in a room I hear “Mrs. So and so yeah she’s crazy.” I constantly ask my co-workers to please stop using this phrase. I have even gone as far to bring in copies of NAMI stigma busters.
Friday another thing happened. A patient’s insurance company due to patient noncompliance had denied a medication. After speaking with the R.N. about the situation we decided it was best to first call the patient. So I dial the patient’s number and begin talking with the patient. While I am on the phone the nurse passes me a little note, which reads: “this patient is schizophrenic.” She was just letting me know while I was talking with him. But the truth is that no, the patient is not schizophrenic. This particular patient has schizophrenia. As we have said before at Supporting Our Siblings: an individual is not their disease, they are a person who also suffers from a particular illness.
But what difference does it make if the patient has schizophrenia, or coronary artery disease, or diabetes? Would this change the way I speak with the patient and what I try to do to help the patient? No, it won’t change anything. So why are we so quick to point out a person’s mental illness?
I let this situation resonate in my mind for a day and then began to write about it. While I was writing I was browsing the familiar mental health sites and blogs I look at least every week. I came across a very riveting post by Guy from A Father’s Journey. Guy previously made us a short video for our blog. He is running marathons across the country to raise money for mental health awareness.
In his post: Mental Illness: The Last Great Stigma, he compares the progress that has been made in other social sectors to progress made in the stigma to combat mental illness. Guy ends the post saying: “say no more.”
We all must say “no more” and not take this stigma anymore. Please join Becca and I in our fight to say no more.
Thank you for all you do,