Open Letter to The Star Kenya's Editor over 'mad' doctor title4:38:00 PM
Good evening Sir/Madam,
I write in regard to an article that ran in The Star on the appointment of a doctor with a mental health condition to the Baringo Health Committee http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-152734/mad-doctor-cleared-baringo-health-committee.
As much as I commend The Star for amazing news pieces, including this one http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-120505/dont-stigmatize-us-mentally-ill-patients quoting my view on how we as people with mental health conditions feel when called names, I would like to point out that using words like mad, insane, crazy and many other labels heighten the stigma associated with the illness which is an illness like any other.
One of the key barriers in mental health intervention is stigma and it not only affects how we feel but goes to high levels like our ability to get jobs, our ability to get lovers, the type and quality (and lack) of medical care we receive (mental health workers are also stigmatized), to government funding and policy priorities.
This barrier can only be broken through attitude change and I believe Baringo Health Committee is making amazing head way by giving the doctor with a mental health condition the opportunity to serve and The Star is doing a good job reporting this success story for someone living with a mental health condition but that effort is somehow reversed by label head lines like mad doctor.
It would be amazing to see
1. The headline changed online and on social media - it would also serve as an opportunity to teach people about mental health labelling and stigma and its effects
2. An article on labeling and stigmatization of persons with mental health and its effects and just how stigma comes about, I have enough material for this that you can borrow
3.Your continued support in reporting and contribution to the African mental health narrative which for years has been really negative and as much as we can't treat those narratives with a veil, we can always find a way to tell things as they are but still give hope.
Mental Health conditions are illnesses like any other. People with mental health conditions can rise to heights every other person can, all they need , like any other human being is support and care.
Looking forward to your positive response and action in promotion of a better environment for persons with mental health conditions and Kenyans at large.