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 Post subject: Undersec. of Health Reinforces Stigma of Mental Illness
PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:04 am 
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Undersecretary of Health Reinforces Stigma of Mental Illness
by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
April 25, 2008

You’ve got to scratch your head when one of the government’s chief advocates for health care in the Veterans Administration just reinforces the old stigmas associated with mental health concerns. Testifying before a federal judge in San Francisco, Michael Kussman said:

“The number of patients who have adjustment reactions to the experience that they have in Afghanistan or Iraq is very important, but we don’t believe that’s mental illness,” Kussman said. “It would be unfair and inappropriate to stigmatize people with a mental health diagnosis when they are having what most people believe are normal reactions to abnormal situations.”

Well, golly gee Dr. Kussman, are you saying that traumatic reaction to wartime situations isn’t a mental illness? Because posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) surely has existed in one form or another since all wars have ever been fought. Is PTSD simply an “adjustment reaction” (whatever that is)? Or are you saying that an adjustment disorder isn’t a real, diagnosable mental disorder? Because, if you are, you’d be wrong on that account as well.

Or, perhaps worse of all, are you suggesting that because mental disorders remain stigmatized within our society today — especially within the military — we therefore shouldn’t seek to properly diagnose and treat soldiers with real and often serious mental health problems? As the undersecretary of health for the VA, you don’t exactly help reduce the stigma with beliefs like this. One of your jobs is to help reduce the stigma of all health and mental health concerns through education and information. Instead you’re only reinforcing the stigma by suggesting people with mental health disorders are somehow damaged or treated unfairly. And if that’s the case, Mr. Undersecretary, I suggest you work to change the system you head that allows veterans to be treated unfairly because of such a diagnosis.

Having a depressive, traumatic or anxious reaction to combat is actually not a normal reaction (even if some of us believe it should be). And sadly, war and combat fighting is not an “abnormal situation” for a soldier — it is exactly what is expected of them (and what they signed up for).

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need soldiers. But in a perfect world, we would definitely take care of those who fought for us. That especially means not minimizing the effects of wartime, nor reinforcing the stigma of mental illness — a condition that returns with so many of our military men and women who have seen combat.


http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2 ... al-health/

(This is the whole blog entry because it was kinda short, but please go to the link to read comments and more.)

What do you think? Is mental illness a stigma? If you have/know someone who has a mental illness, do you think it would be alright to tell people as you would if you had cancer or diabetes? Or do you think you would be treated differently? Have you had any experience with this?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:22 am 
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If you have/know someone who has a mental illness, do you think it would be alright to tell people as you would if you had cancer or diabetes? Or do you think you would be treated differently? Have you had any experience with this?



Not in my neck of the woods! Probably not in yours, either, lefty. A person with a "mental health" problem is considered "nuts." Oh, sure...sympathetic noises will be made but the taint will be very hard to erase. Once known as having a mental problem, that's what everybody remembers about you. Sad, but that's the way it is...around here, anyway...at least for the most part.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:11 pm 
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I have learned to over-advertise where I am because of my son's pervasive developmental disability, since it is not a mental illness either, Asperger's Syndrome is a neurological disorder . Amazingly enough, even various family members of various mental/developmental disabilities do not want to be confused with "mental illness", and I am guilty of that as well! I cannot tell you how relieved my own beloved mother was, God rest her soul, when I finally explained it all to her before she passed on that her grandson was finally correctly diagnosed with a form of autism and was not "mentally ill", yet still needed meds for the rest of his life. Stigmas almost seem amusing and humorous in this personal anectdote! :)

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 12:53 am 
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Its horrible how stigmatized mental illnesses are; especially considering that most have been proved to have physiological causes in the first place. Unfortunately, your arm doesn't fall off, nor do you have to have chemo, or anything removed, so people are inclined to write you and your illness off as something "all in your head" that you can "get over" if you just tried. Its quite a shame indeed.

Mental illnesses for the large part are actual and verifiable "medical" conditions; chronic like so many other diseases that plague people, yet most don't care at all for the people who have them and most certainly don't have sympathy for people who suffer from them.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:06 pm 
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lefty wrote:
...Mental illnesses for the large part are actual and verifiable "medical" conditions; chronic like so many other diseases that plague people, yet most don't care at all for the people who have them and most certainly don't have sympathy for people who suffer from them.


My best friend in the whole world has acute Agoraphobia and lives in Texas! She is having a terrible time getting Medicare to cooperate with her, because the generic med does not help her for the name brand that did work for her before . Medicare will not give an inch . I have known her since she was two and I was one, and she will not move from there :(

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:05 am 
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yankhadenuf wrote:
My best friend in the whole world has acute Agoraphobia and lives in Texas! She is having a terrible time getting Medicare to cooperate with her, because the generic med does not help her for the name brand that did work for her before . Medicare will not give an inch . I have known her since she was two and I was one, and she will not move from there :(


The one thing Medicare has not done enough to educate their insured as to the options available. Part D that covers prescription drugs is not administered directly by Medicare. Every year in the October to December time frame, there is an open enrollment period for the next year's Part D coverage. The insurance companies involved are fiercely competitive to get the premium deductions from Social Security payments. One area they compete is the drugs they offer and can vary widely between carriers. There are online tools from Medicare that show which carriers and plans offer which specific drugs, both generic and brand name. I found this extremely helpful in identifying the proper carrier for the maintenance prescriptions required for chronic conditions, from diabetes to depression to bi-polar disorder.

Your friend should also investigate the availability of state funds like Medical for her prescription(s). Often this will close the gaps left by Medicare.

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