Needed: Change in attitude toward the mentally ill

Idiot, madman, nut, wacko, batty, sickie, cuckoo, loony, screwy, loco; these are words used to describe the mentally disabled. It would seem in this society that prejudice against gays, minorities, women and foreigners is not tolerated, while bias towards people with a sick mind is OK. The media only mentions mentally disabled when one has committed a crime. Articles about mental illness and the poverty and suffering must be put in the newspaper. Stories about the mentally ill must be shown on television.

Prejudice towards the people with cerebral sickness is as old as mankind. As a species, man has always relied on his mind to help tame the environment. When one’s mind is off the deep end, he or she is looked down upon. This is true in America, this is true in all countries. What can change this attitude?

Nothing can. The bias goes too deep. But by educating the public about the challenges and realities of being ill in America, at least the public can begin to understand. The mentally ill are out of the institutions that would have confined them 300 years ago. It is in the public’s interest to learn about the mentally ill and perhaps to help them.

Abe Lightfoot
Oil City, Pa.

From the May 7-13, 2014, issue

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