It is one thing to treat an illness and another to treat a patient. The root of any mental illness is the human suffering beneath. Just like how every culture varies with their perspectives, each patient also has a unique viewpoint on their own illness. Ones own viewpoints are critical to understand in order of treating ones mental health and also their own seeking of that help.
Everyone is aware of the tragedy and scare of Ebola, coming from Africa into the United States. People in America understood the illness and how serious it is, but what we did not see was the people of Africa and what they went through. As discussed in lecture 2, “explanatory models and interpretive theory: learning about health through ethnography,” western health workers came in and took blood in order to attempt to control the recent Ebola outbreak (Lecture 2.1). These workers came into their homes taking blood and then their families had to watch them die within days. Because of this tragedy, the way these individuals looked at blood in Africa was far away on the spectrum of what one at a doctor’s office might feel. This is a huge reason why looking at someone’s explanatory model and being sensitive to what they see is beneficial to both the person trying to help and the patient. It is important to see things through others eyes and understand their struggles.
Just like in the Ebola outbreak example, using ones explanatory model is critical in treating mental illnesses individually. Mental illness is very misunderstood and everyone automatically labels those people as dangerous. If one is aware of their illness, they are usually ashamed and embarrassed to seek help because of that stigma put on them. It is important to show care and empathy to those in need. People with a mental illness are challenged with the struggle of their symptoms and also societal stigmas. A huge thing to question is why people are sympathetic towards others with a physical illness but not normally mental illnesses, aren’t they both under the same category of an illness? I read in a world psychiatry journal, “unlike physical disabilities, persons with mental illness are perceived by the public to be in control of their disabilities and responsible for causing them” (Corrigan, 2002). Although the DSM would have believed that when it was first published through the influence of Sigmund Freud, the advancement of modern medicine changed those outlooks. Through research, mental illness is known to be a neurological imbalance of chemicals in the brain and out of ones control, but treated with medicine. The way each person looks at someone’s illness is adding stigma to that individual, and ending the negativity will be advantageous for everyone’s health. It is almost like a vicious cycle, the ones who don’t seek help are ashamed because of social stigmas and that results in furthering stereotypes for all, based on the ones who don’t restore their chemical imbalance.
Corrigan, Patrick W., and Amy C. Watson. “Understanding the Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness.” World Psychiatry. Masson Italy, Feb. 2002. Web. 12 July 2016.