StigmaBusting Network and Alerts
NAMI CAMPAIGN STIGMA BUSTERS EMAIL ALERT Update
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Ms. Stella March
NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.
NAMI StigmaBusters now number 7,500. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
LATE BREAKING NEWS:
The World Health Organization report of October 4, 2001 states that:
We will continue to commend media portrayals and descriptions with language that conveys accurate messages to the public about mental disorders
Psychologists would instead argue that a terrorist is not insane, but rather they are fanantics. A terrorist is a person who plans, performs or supports deeds of death and/or destruction, with zeal and dedication, even when suicide is involved. The terrorist's goal is to produce panic, fear and chaos throughout the targeted nation.
In contrast, person with a severe mental illness has a biological brain disorder and is usually not violent.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher's Report on Mental Illness (Dec. l999) states: "One series of surveys found that selective media reporting reinforced the public's stereotypes linking violence and mental illness and encouraged people to distance themselves from those with mental disorders (Angermeyer & Matschinger, 1996). However, the overall likelihood of violence is low . . . there is very little risk of violence or harm to a stranger from casual contact with an individual who has a mental disorder. . . why is fear of violence so entrenched? Most speculations focus on media coverage and de-institutionalization. (Phelan et al., 1997; Heginbotham, 1998).
Erica Goode wrote an article in the NY Times on Sept. 12th, 2001 ("Attackers Believed to Be Sane") where she examined the public misperception that the terrorists were mentally ill. She reports that: "the attacks visited on New York and Washington yesterday were in all likelihood the work of perfectly sane people, said experts on the psychology of terrorism. Although such attacks are often termed suicide bombings, the experts said, the bombers themselves are usually not suicidal in any common sense of the word. They do not qualify for any psychiatric diagnosis. They are not impelled by depression, despair or low self-esteem. ''The conventional psychiatric understanding of what goes into individual suicides simply doesn't help us understand this,'' said Dr. Jerrold Post, a professor of political psychology and international affairs at George Washington University. (NY Times 9/12/2001.)
Indeed the past two weeks have brought more reports about young people in the Middle East who embrace the fundamentalist faith as interpreted by Osama bin Laden. These young people have been recruited and indoctrinated to believe that martyrdom through a suicide attack, would result in heavenly bliss.
We did receive a letter from one NAMI member arguing that by the nature of the deed, the terrorists must have had mental illnesses, which probably went untreated. But such a comparison trivializes BOTH evil and mental illness. It is an insult to anyone with a mental illness, particularly those who are Americans who love our county and humanity.
In essence, it's the violence stereotype, but taken to the highest degree. The violence of terrorist activities produces fear and panic in the world population. The stigma of mental illness carries the stereotype of violence that produces fear and panic in the community, but is still a myth.
Mr. Benoit Pousset, President Disguise
11906 Tech Center Ct.
Poway, CA 92064
We sent the following letter to the president of a mattress company, which was running a commercial on several local radio stations. He had already received a few calls about the commercial. When I phoned to verify whether he had received my letter, I was informed that he was withdrawing the commercial.
The letter follows:
Sept. 29, 2001
This letter has been delayed by terrible attack on the 11th and the current war against terrorism. As the President requested, we are returning to normal activities, which in our case, is reducing the stigma that hurts the one in five Americans who struggle with a severe mental illness.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, has emphasized the need to reduce stigma stating that: "In its most overt and egregious form, stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society."
Family members of NAMI Los Angeles County affiliates are appalled at your current radio commercial which features selling a used "straitjacket" upon discharge from the "nut house". This language is most offensive, degrading, dehumanizing and inaccurate.
Stella March Coordinator, NAMI Stigmabusters
With your most important support we will continue to Bust the Stigma! We now number 8330. Let your voice be heard.
Stella March, Coordinator
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