Op/Ed: Erasing the Prejudice Against the Mentally Ill


2/28/13

People hate and judge what they don’t understand. Most people don’t try to understand those with mental illnesses, automatically placing them in a category of “crazy” and “retarded.” In reality, they are people too; people with feelings, hopes and dreams. They just have an extra barrier that separates them from what we all take for granted: a potential road to success.

Starting in education, those with a mental illness are sometimes told from the beginning that their lives will never amount to something that a “normal” individual might have. And that’s a tragedy.

In reality, those with mental illnesses deserve every resource and help from others in order to achieve their dreams. Their dreams are just as important as everyone’s and they need to be realized.

The biggest obstacle in life isn’t their illness; it’s other people’s prejudices. It’s not only that people bring them down; it’s that people don’t raise them up.

In order to this, we need a complete makeover on our mindset. For example, the word “retarded” is used daily as an insult to others. It should never be used as an insult, because it’s not a bad thing to be retarded. It just means that someone’s brain is unique. Someone’s uniqueness should never be squandered, only celebrated.

It is our mission to erase “retarded” from people’s common insults. It is our mission to erase the prejudice against the mentally ill.

Maybe this is a scary thought. This prejudice exists because people are afraid of those who are different. They don’t know how to act around the mentally ill. In reality, it’s not different than talking to any other person around you, except that most of the time, their hearts are bigger.

For those with mental illness, having friends is a rarity. Imagine going through life with only your parents and siblings as your best friends. Even just a smile or kind words can make their day. A friendship goes further.

Everyone in the world deserves to be treated with respect and understanding. Unfortunately, those with mental illnesses aren’t. We need to change that. At the end of the day, each person still wants the same thing: to love and be loved.

 from: http://www.uwsp.edu/pointeronline/Pages/articles/Erasing-The-Prejudice-Against-the-Mentally-Ill.aspx

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