You may have seen these recent headlines, or similar ones:
Princess admits mental illness
Japanese princess admits mental illness
What struck me as I read these was how much more work we really have to do when it comes to the stigma of “mental illness” (starting perhaps with eliminating that term entirely).
The headlines give the impression of someone who has been caught and confesses to committing a crime or some other antisocial or reprehensible act: “Princess confesses to mental illness; prosecutors demand life without parole”.
Reading the stories, one quickly learns that the princess is struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression, attributed at least in part to the stress of being under constant scrutiny in the public eye. Well, I’m happy to see the press stepping up to the plate on this one: No doubt having her name splashed across the internet and international newspapers next to the label “mental illness” will make the poor woman feel much better. I am reminded of the paparazzi who hounded Princess Diana to her death a few short years ago.
Clearly, we have a lot more work to do in educating people about anxiety, depression, and other “mental illnesses”… Sadly, the stigma is still as big as it ever was.