Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So, one of my new endeavors is to contact various media sources about their discriminatory stories involving mental illness. I would like to share with you my first letter to the editor. 

I was in line at the super market when my eye caught the cover of NY Daily News. The headline read in big letters, " NO END TO THE STAE OF SHAME: ALBANY TURNS INTO MADHOUSE" I of course pick up the paper to read further. It didn't take long to locate the discriminatory comment. The first paragraph read:

"Yesterday's coup d'etat revealed Albany for the madhouse it has become, with the lunatics firmly in charge of the asylum." Now sure, people may tell me that I am too sensitive but if this editor used a different stereotype to compare to the NY State Senate, I am sure he or she would be forced to apologize for this insensitivity. 

Here is my letter to the editor. I am hoping that I hear back:)

"I would like to comment on the editorial, "No end to the State of Shame: Albany turns into madhouse". Not so much for the content, rather the offensive comparison that was made. The stigma of mental illness is still alive and well. Due to lack of awareness, many news stories continue to portray mental illness in a discriminating nature. This article compares New York's Senate to a MADHOUSE, ASYLUM full of LUNATICS. I am tired of these derogatory comparisons because they discriminate and stereotype real people who are dealing with mental illness. Did you know discrimination against mental illness is about 20 years behind all other forms of discrimination? 

And why must the media sensationalize situations involving violence and mental illness? These stories only create public fear and personal shame. Did you know that 95% of all homicides are committed by individuals with NO mental illness? And 90% of people with a mental illness are NEVER violent? I think the public would be shocked to hear these statistics.

I am an advocate who is working to raise awareness because my brother suffers from schizophrenia. I can tell you first hand that the strength and courage required to overcome mental illness is nothing short of miraculous. Families are also subject to paralyzing, emotional pain as they watch their loved ones struggle to reach recovery. I would love for the Daily News to run a positive story about mental illness and discuss my cause. I think many people, who are otherwise misinformed, may gain insight into the reality of mental illness. Society plays a role in recovery because shame is one of the main reasons why people will not seek treatment. Could you imagine a cancer patient not seeking treatment because he or she is ashamed of their illness? The cancer patient could die from their illness whereas some one with an untreated mental disorder could die from suicide. You can learn more about my cause at the following links (my blog has many supportive followers):

Web:  www.gaining-insight.com (check out the PAINTINGS page)
Blog:  www.gaining-insight.blogspot.com
News:  www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=750776

Feel free to contact me if you would like to run a story. We need to replace fear with empathy and shame with courage. I will soon have an educational video documentary about this topic. I hope to show this video in high-schools and universities across the nation." 


  1. Hey AC,
    Yea! For you. You know what I am waiting for? A celebrity to take up the cause of mental illnesses. It seems like they wear ribbons for everything, but that. I guess until some hidy tidy celb chooses the cause the rest of us have to take the burden.

    You know what? Somehow I was on Senator Gillbrand's e - mail list and she sent me a thing about fighting for Autism. Now I have no problem with that. In fact it is one of my causes listed on Facebook. However, I choose to write her a letter back (it gave a link for that) and I told her what about the mental ill people living in her old Congress district.

    Anyway, good for you. You are honoring your brother and the rest of us well,

  2. Thanks Amanda,

    It is sad that a celebrity has to take up a cause to really get people thinking but it is what it is. I heard Glen Close will be participating in a campaign about mental illness this year. She has a sister and nephew with mental illness. The show House also does what they can to raise awareness. The main star has been hospitalized for depression I think. He has been quite vocal. We must make these illnesses mundane so that we stop speculating and sensationalizing on the topic.I hope to slowly gain more publicity about my cause. Maybe one day they will talk more about in on national news, etc. Also, I hope to create a national campaign. It helps that I am in the advertising field:)

  3. Hi ACDesign,

    That is so good you corrected the editor and educated them about mental illness. You are making a tremendous difference one soul at a time- you go girl!

    By the way, I am starting a support group within the next couple of months, and would love to show your documentary- how can I get it?


  4. Ashle,

    Thank you for your kind words:) I have the 1st version of the video completed. I will go through more edits and hope to add a section about the faces of recovery. I could send you the 1st version because I would LOVE to get feedback as I make more edits. Just to give you an idea of the initial response. There were many tears shed and I was completely humbled by the great feedback. I felt that I was giving a voice to the mental health community for once. There is so much to be said. So let me know and I will send you the first edition by this weekend. I will need your address. THANKS!