thefairymelusine: line drawing of a knight lying by a bank of flowers (Default)
I have recently started occasionally watching television news. This generally gives me a sense that I need to disinfect myself and turn the television off as soon as possible, as well as filling me with a great deal of righteous anger.

There was a story, one of the perennial stories, about someone being stabbed by a mentally ill man who'd recently been released from hospital. The story repeatedly used "mentally ill" as shorthand for dangerous, the only context they gave for the attack was that he had an history of "paranoid schizophrenia" and the gist was that's it's too easy for mentally ill people to be released from hospital.

There are a few issues there. There is the use of "schizophrenia" and especially of "paranoid schizophrenia" as automatically being a danger to others  or the general public (how many times do there need be awareness campaigns about the fact that mental illness is far more likely to be a danger to the person suffering from it, or that they are far more likely to be in danger generally). The fact that schizophrenia is an outdated term which covers far too many conditions and symptoms to be an effective term. The general assumption that mental illness is dangerous to the general public, and that any form of psychotic disorder is especially.

I was already thinking about this before I saw this particular story. I have to get sick notes this week, and I've been advised not to put my full diagnosis on them, because of the fact that they're going to my employer and university. My full diagnosis has changed somewhat over the years, is only not schizophrenia because of the aforementioned outdated term thing. Currently it is psychotic depression. The depression largely characterised the last episode, but the obsessive and shattering nature of it was quite close to my experience of psychosis, as was the irrational nature. Also, mentioning the fact that the previous two episodes had involved psychosis is possibly a convenient, although equally bad, way of conveying the seriousness of this. I'm probably going to agree, and let the notes be written just about depression, although that presents its own pitfalls and misconceptions. But by doing that I am buying into the fact that psychotic illnesses are not something we talk about, are not something that normal, employable people can have.

Make no mistake, I think this was a tragedy. But it was a tragedy that was either just a tragedy, unavoidable, or a tragedy in the same way that people killing themselves after contact with mental health services. Mental health services do need improving. But the main improvement they need is better care and attention towards patients. And can we please stop this bloody tiering of mental illness into, effectively, people who are a bit low and people who are dangerous, and the stupid stigma around both.

That was less eloquent than it should have been. But I am very angry. Expect more on this.

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