Mental Disorder Mental Disorder

Perpetuating Stigma

There is a slow awakening now in the Kingdom of the impact mental disorder has not only on the sufferer, but on the family and as the community as a whole.

This article will not present any answers to the ongoing discourse of the prognosis of mental disorder or dictate the legislation that can be created; that is the function of the ekklesia. However, this article hopes to articulate the values to which these legislation's and policies will be created.

Mental disorder is defined as ‘any disorder or disability of the mind’ (Mental Health Act 2007). A Social problem is a condition that a society views as undesirable and mental illness is labelled as a social problem. This perception of mental illness is propagated in the media further perpetuating the debilitating stigma already attached with mental illness sufferers. This presents a distorted picture to the general population of those who experience mental illness. Statistics suggest that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in the course of a year, thus this has become a key target of the government due to the wide spread prevalence of mental illness.

The Mental Health Act 1983 was heralded as a watershed in England and Wales with a thorough and extensive legislation covering the definition, treatment of mental disorders ‘patients’. Additionally it stipulated the duties and powers of the many professionals that will work alongside mental health users. The Mental Health Act 2007 amended the 1983 definition and changed the role of the Approved Social worker to the Approved Mental Health Professional and transferred the overall discharge powers from the Mental Health review Tribunal to the 1st Tier Mental Health Tribunals. Certain sections in the Mental Health Act provide after-care provision to mental health users.

The new Care Programme Approach (Department of Health 2008b) also provides a care package to those detained under s.3 of the Mental Health Act.There is an ongoing discourse within Christendom about the prognosis and aetiology of Mental illness. There is still a minority that places mental illness in a homogenous group of demon possessed lunatics; this being the perception of the previous century and why many mental health users were shut up in institutions and closed off from society. With the advent of the Mental Health Act the most vulnerable citizens were protected by law, however, within the

There is an ongoing discourse within Christendom about the prognosis and aetiology of Mental illness. There is still a minority that places mental illness in a homogenous group of demon possessed lunatics; this being the perception of the previous century and why many mental health users were shut up in institutions and closed off from society. With the advent of the Mental Health Act the most vulnerable citizens were protected by law, however, within the church many mental health users were still on the periphery of church life. They were stigmatised as sinners, evil and crazy just as when Jesus’ disciples sought to know who was to blame for this man’s blindness.

There is a slow awakening now in the Kingdom of the impact mental disorder has not only on the sufferer, but on the family and as the community as a whole. ‘Our identity as a nation is cultivated by our responsibility for each other as citizens. Our devotion to the King will be evident through our active citizenship. Thus true commonwealth is underpinned by each citizen realising their personal responsibility for each other’ (See a Need Fill a Need). This quote is vital to the understanding that a person with mental illness should be viewed first as a citizen and then with a disorder. Therefore as a community we can be proactive to supply support to the citizen in need.

To reduce the stigma attached with those who suffer from mental illness, all citizens within the ekklesia should be educated with the current legislation including: laws, policies, procedures and treatment surrounding mental health. This will dispel anxiety within the community to explain the diagnosis, treatment, care and support the service user may receive. If our focus is on the recovery of the whole person then we have to ascertain what the best interests of each individual person is. This might mean that we may have to cooperate with the current professionals that work with mental health users. This may mean that we will have to admit our gaps in the knowledge and seek ways to fill it.

To reduce the stigma attached with those who suffer from mental illness, all citizens within the ekklesia should be educated with the current legislation including: laws, policies, procedures and treatment surrounding mental health. This will dispel anxiety within the community to explain the diagnosis, treatment, care and support the service user may receive. If our focus is on the recovery of the whole person then we have to ascertain what the best interests of each individual person is. This might mean that we may have to cooperate with the current professionals that work with mental health users. This may mean that we will have to admit our gaps in the knowledge and seek ways to fill it.

The goal is recovery, and then there should be more emphasis on the process rather than the completed goal. Many citizens that suffer from mental illness remain with the illness for the rest of their lives and undergo extensive treatments and need ongoing support. The ekklesia should think of deliberating an effective holistic package of care and support with realistic expectations and goals underpinned by a systematic policy. It may differ slightly in each locality as a result of the varying of needs. However the value of seeing a need or filling a need should be tantamount.

I will leave some questions that all citizens should contemplate upon.

Is mental illness seen as a taboo? If yes or no, why.

Do spiritual leaders spend more time blaming the individual sufferer than sourcing a solution?

Legislation and guidance

Department of Health. (2008b). Refocusing the Care Programme Approach: Policy and Positive Practice Guidance. London: Department of HealthMental Health Act 1983

Mental Health Act 1983

Mental Health Act 2007 

Esther

Esther serves as a deacon in the Islington fellowship. A social work professional, Esther oversees the ministries behavioural change strategy and leads pastoral development. Esther is passionate about seeing believers Activate Citizenship.

 

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