Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Can a real look at mental illness make a difference in eliminating stigma and motivate people to get help? That's the hope of Lifetime Television and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill are betting on when they air a program entitled "Call Me Crazy" this Saturday April 20 at 8 p.m. I know I will be watching, front and center, to see how they will protray mental illness.
Mental illness has nothing to do with weakness or lack of morality. It has everything to do with one's own biology, temperament, personality, resilience, and environment. Mental illness affects millions and millions of Americans, but it often goes undiagnosed and untreated because it is misunderstood. Military vets may acquire Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from active military duty. Moms may suffer post partum depression. Smart people get trapped in all kinds of addictions.
What probably won't be covered is the impact of mental illness on sexual function. In my book, Sex, Love, and Mental Illness: A Couple's Guide to Staying Connected, I address that very topic. When someone is depressed, it might make them isolate and turn away from physical intimacy, which could be helpful to them. When someone has Attention Deficit Disorder, they may not have the concentration for sex and orgasm. More importantly, they may have behaviors that are difficult for themselves and others to live with, like not listening, not remembering things, or neglecting chores and so forth, causing strife in love relationships.
It is surprising to me that, in 2013, people are still waiting years to get help for problems with mental illness. There is so much stigma attached to mental illness that even therapists get hung up on calling it what it is. Hey, this is an illness that affects your mind, erego, it is mental illness. The harm happens only when the label is thrown at someone to hurt them, instead of helping.
You probably are familiar with Lifetime Television, but you may not know anything about the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, aka NAMI. NAMI has many resources, including classes that family members can take that can help them cope with mental illness in a relative. Each summer they put on a conference, and I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to speak on the topic of my book.
Let's all watch, then feel free to come back to the blog and comment.