Making Peace with Mental Illness
[Home] [Bipolar News] [Bipolar Disorder] [Medications] [Treatments] [BP/Job/School] [Disability] [Ask the Doctor] [Ask David] [Self-Injury] [Personal Stories] [Graham's Column] [Steven's Column] [Storm's Column] [Columnists Archives] [Suicide] [Community Support] [Family Members] [Expressions] [Greeting Cards] [Books] [Awards] [Links & Rings] [About Us] [Contact Us]


Making Peace with Mental Illness


As part of his activism of nonviolence (ahimsa), Gandhi challenged inequitable social structures that create conflict. Worldwide, mental illness and its related stigma rank high as a social issue magnifying the worst of human rights abuses.

A 2005 WHO feature, Denied Citizens, chronicles the inhumane treatment of mentally ill world wide, with graphic pictures reminiscent of Abu Gharib. In the United States, diagnosis is fraught with problems of cultural bias, if anyone notices at all. Treatment is often unaffordable or unavailable, and drugs are haphazardly tested on Caucasian males. Who are the mentally ill? The surgeon's general's statistics exclude the admittedly higher numbers for homeless and incarcerated, which are likely outcomes for untreated mentally ill, particularly among minorities.

Where are the best outcome for mental illness? Not in the West! According to a WHO study, schizophrenics show higher level functioning in the simple social structures of countries like Nigeria and India. This result so confounded Western psychiatrists and health professionals that the study was repeated, with the same result, in all lasting thirty years.

The buzz word is functioning—social supports are a larger factor in mental health functioning than medication. A schizophrenic man in a remote Indian village is less impaired than a schizophrenic man in a Western city for two reasons: simple accessible opportunities to belong and be useful, and a small accepting community with more survival supports and fewer stigma barriers.

Mental illness may result in mental health, just as mental health may erode to illness. David Lykken argues that sociopathy, particularly dissocial sociopathy in gang affiliations, helps explain the alarming increase in violent crime in the last 50 years. His 1995 study highlighted the dangers of ineffective parenting and inadequate socialization during childhood and adolescence. Yet low income and single parent families struggle just to feed and house children, let alone pay for quality daycare.

Not surprisingly, the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse has two broad objectives: " (a) closing the gap between what is needed and what is currently available to reduce the burden of mental disorders worldwide, and (b) promoting mental health."

A key factor in mental health is peaceful conflict resolution. In the wisdom of Mahatma Ghandi, "Bring your opponent to his senses, not to his knees."

Sociologist Elise Boulding, major contributor to conflict resolution research nationally and internationally, advocates the use of social imagination to image the future. What do we want for the neediest among us?

If mental health is a casualty of war, it's also a hidden cost of social inequity and neglected domestic programs.

A. Christie

Bipolar World   © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Owners:  Allie Bloom, David Schafer, M.Ed. (Blackdog)

Partners:  John Haeckel, Judith (Duff)
Founder:  Colleen Sullivan
Email Us at Bipolar World

About Us  Add a Link  Advance Directives  Alternative Treatments  Ask the Doctor   Ask Dr. Phelps about Bipolar Disorder   Ask The Doctor/Dr. Phelps' Topic Archives  Awards  Benny the Bipolar Puppy  Bipolar Chat  Bipolar Children  Bipolar Disorder News  Bipolar Help Contract  Bipolar World Forums  Book Reviews  Bookstore  BP & Other mental Illness   Clinical Research Trials & FDA Drug Approval   Community Support   Contact Us  The Continuum of Mania and Depression   Coping   Criteria    Criteria and Diagnosis  Criteria-World Health Disabilities,  DSMV-IV   Dual Diagnosis  eGroups  Expressions (Poetry, Inspiration, Humor, Art Gallery, Memorials  Family Members   Getting Help for a Loved One who Refuses Treatment  Greeting Cards  History of Mental Illness  Indigo  Job and School  Links    Medications   Medication and Weight Gain    News of the Day  Parent Chat  Pay for Meds  Personal Stories  Self Help  Self Injury  Significant Others  Stigma and Mental Health Law  Storm's Column  Suicide!!!  The Suicide Wall  Table of Contents  Treatments  Treatment Compliance  US Disability  Veteran's Chat  What's New?