I’m watching an episode of New Amsterdam – and one patient attempts suicide. Fortunately, she survives. Trouble is, there is so much stigma surrounding the family that the patient is worried she will lose her mother’s love if she undergoes therapy.
Here is how the stigma is dealt with:
- A judgmental mother. She does not even acknowledge her daughter’s attempt. “She slipped,” she says.
- A culture which describes illness as “weak.” I’m not sure if it’s the Asian culture (which is not specified), or 21st-Century American culture. Both are equally hateful of the ill.
- They are trying to wrangle around her getting therapy with lies.
- Now, the doctor is talking to the mother. He brings up another point: that the mother might have blamed herself.
- Now the psychiatrist talks to the patient. She is describing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Now the mother is admitting she needs help too, after her daughter apologizes.
Anyway, there are a lot of sadness and shame associated with the daughter’s depression. Fortunately, there is a lot of love, and burgeoning understanding, between the mother and daughter. Love wins out in the end.
Do not dismiss this case. Stigma is real. Thanks to stigma, people are not getting the help they need. Thanks to stigma, there have been people in psychosis causing chaos on the roofs of buildings. Thanks to stigma, people are suffering in silence. Thanks to stigma, people have died by their own hand. Why is it not enough that people are suffering and dying to fight stigma? How many people have to die?