Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mental Illness

My husband and I have been conservators for someone in a mental hospital for many years. Once we visited a friend in the area and, taking a completely different route to the hospital from the friend's home, we got lost.
Seeing a couple of teen boys by the side of the road we pulled over and I rolled down the window.
"We're lost," I told them. "Can you tell us how to get to the mental hospital?"
I have never seen such shocked and horrified expressions on human faces in my life!
One of the boys stammered out, "No," and we drove away, unable to keep from laughing at their reaction. Of course that probably convinced them we were crazy.
While that incident seemed funny at the time, it's sad to realize how much prejudice there is against mentally ill people. I even know of a man who was asked not to return to the church he attended because the pastor thought he might scare away visitors. There was nothing dangerous or violent about that man's behavior at all.
Mentally ill people aren't all psychopaths, as portrayed by Hollywood. It's against the law to portray racial groups according to stereotypes and maybe a lot of people's lives would be improved if it became illegal to portray people with disabilities that way.

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