|Dear Mr. Lang:
On Sunday, May 2, you aired a program called "Caring for a Career." In it you
profiled the work of a psychiatric nurse. During your profile, you talked about
people with mental health problems as "chronic mental patients."
Using this terminology is not appropriate, because it perpetuates the stigma that
exists around mental health problems. First, it identifies a person solely by his
mental health status; second, it equates having a mental health problem with
having to be hospitalized, and finally it implies that people cannot recover from
their mental health problems.
According to statistics, one in five people will experience a temporary mental
health problem in their lifetime, yet we live in a society which doesn't talk about
mental health problems. These problems could range from situational depression,
high levels of stress in the workplace or within the family, and emotional
disorders due to abuse, to induced trauma, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar
affective disorder (manic depression). Some people may find hospital treatment
necessary, but any one of us could be hospitalized, for a variety of reasons. The
majority of people with mental health difficulties do not require continuous
I appreciate that you opened up this very important issue. Indeed, mental health
should be a concern for all of us. However, I hope you will be more accurate and
sensitive in your portrayal of mental health issues and people who experience
mental health problems in the future.
I hope you will address this on your next "Caring for a Career" program. I look
forward to your response.
c: S. C. SHARE