The Stigma of Mental Illness: Undiagnosed and Untreated Essay

2382 Words 10 Pages
Madhouses, looney bins, insane asylums, monsters, witches, and lunatics. These are the terms that haunt both the mentally ill and the facilities that provide their treatment. The stigma of mental illness prevents persons in need of treatment from seeking help for their mental illnesses. The roots of the stigma of mental illness need to be dissected to reduce the discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping of the mentally ill. There are things that can be done to prevent this stigma including changes in federal policy, public cooperation, and individual advocacy.
1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT Civilizations have tried to cure the mentally ill since prehistoric times. Often it was believed that these people were victims of possession by
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Madhouses, looney bins, insane asylums, monsters, witches, and lunatics. These are the terms that haunt both the mentally ill and the facilities that provide their treatment. The stigma of mental illness prevents persons in need of treatment from seeking help for their mental illnesses. The roots of the stigma of mental illness need to be dissected to reduce the discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping of the mentally ill. There are things that can be done to prevent this stigma including changes in federal policy, public cooperation, and individual advocacy.
1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT Civilizations have tried to cure the mentally ill since prehistoric times. Often it was believed that these people were victims of possession by demons, or were witches. Doctors Eric Snitchler and Kevin Harris from Northern Illinois University noted that “Archeologists have uncovered skulls with holes drilled in them dating back as far as 8,000 B.C…the holes may have been drilled into the skull as a means of releasing ‘evil spirits’ that were trapped inside the head causing abnormal behavior.” This surgery, referred to as trephining, is still practiced by some African tribes today. In the Middle Ages, Europeans left the mentally unstable alone unless they proved to be dangerous. In the 1600s Europeans began to isolate the mentally ill. They treated them poorly and chained them to walls and left them in dungeons. After the French Revolution, some establishments were reformed and