Mental Illness Stigma

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
I'm sitting in phlebotomy class. The topic of discussion veers off to drug usage because we're talking about various blood tests for drugs ect. Next thing we know some idiot decides to voice her opinion on mental illness. (I still don't know how the discussion veered in that direction)

She starts spouting how people with mental illness have no business having children or being part of society. And yeah, same with severe physical disability too. But she was stressing on the bipolar side of things.

Now my best friend and I both are in this class. We're both bipolar. My friend keeps elbowing me to speak up. I'm biting my tongue and trying hard to ignore them. Although I did jump in a few times. But the other students weren't listening anyway they were too caught up in spouting all of the stereotypes and misconceptions.

I was fuming by the time the class went on break. I grabbed the females responsible for the conversation and confronted them. My friend backed me up as well as another lady we didn't know as bipolar (but suspected). We tried to be nice about it but let them know in no uncertain terms we were NOT happy with their comments. And that the stuff they were saying wasn't based in truth.

I ended it by letting them know that if they couldn't put aside their misconceptions, judgements, and prejudices that the medical profession was NOT the profession for them. That if they were heard spouting such nonsense in a medical facility they'd find themselves fired faster than they could blink. (true)

We bipolars were going to speak with the instructor but never got the chance. She got a call that her husband was having a heart attack and had to leave.

Now we are debating on whether or not to make a formal complaint or to just talk to our director about it. These women are getting ready to graduate from the medical assisting program. They'll be working in doctor offices all over the state. I think they need to also hear this from someone in authority. I mean come on...... How do you get thru 2 yrs of medication training and still wind up so closed minded???

I know in our human diseases class that such a discussion started and the instructor nipped it in the bud fast. She let them have it both barrels about judging others based on predjudice ect.

The thought of these women working out there makes me shudder. Janet, that's why I'm considering buying a few of those t shirts from that link to wear to school. :grin:


No real answers to life..
How did they take your discussion with them? Did they back down or did they hold with their stereotypes? If they are young students I would pitch them a break, they probably haven't been in the real world and are just passing on ideas they have heard in their own small circles. I would mention this to the director and at least express your concerns that these students would have a bad reflection on your institution if they graduated from the program with such intolerant attitudes.

Do these students think they will never deal with mental illness in their field? How naive.................... Also don't know what your school is, but isn't there a medical ethics class or something that would stress tolerance for the ill? Was a little surprised the instructor would even let this go on, but guess she was distracted....

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Yep, We're required to take a medical ethics class. And only one of them was young enough I'd give her a break for age/inexperience. Most of the group were in their 30's and early 40's. Since these students are about to graduate I know they've taken the ethics course.

The instructor I think was blindsided. She's not a professional teacher. She's a phlebotomist with a degree the school hired to teach the course and has only done it for 2 quarters. She might have said something when we came back from break but she got that awful phone call and had to leave.

I think we had an affect on their attitudes. At least it seemed that way. I don't want to get them into trouble. It just concerns me that they've gotten thru the program with these type of predjudices still in place.


Well-Known Member
LOL Lisa I was just thinking a few of those shirts would fit the bill.

But on the serious side, anyone who would act this way has to have a few screws loose themselves. Its almost like the homophobic issue. Are they protesting too much for fear of what they may be wondering about? Do they think they could catch a mental illness? Dont get too close brain chemicals just might jump out and get ya!

There are times I can take these conversations and handle them with humor and grace but then there are times where they just get to me and I go off. Depends on my mood!


Active Member
These people sound very ignorant and uneducated to me. i hope someone can set them straight. sounds odd to hear this happening in a school setting!!
What they are advocating is eugenics, same thing as the nazis preached (it originated right here in the USA though), and very unfortunately it is making a resurgence now. In this twisted thinking, right after preventing "defective" people from having "defective" children comes eliminating the "defective" people who are already here. Often it is said that their lives are not worth living - this is couched in terms of compassion, "ending sufffering", to make it more palatable but the idea is the same. Witness the number of people who were so anxious to cut off Terri Schiavo. (Hope I'm not venturing too close to politics here.) The field of (so-called) bioethics is rife with that kind of thinking. One of the main factors driving the push for genetic testing in the womb is to detect conditions such as Down's syndrome, implicitly so that the baby can be aborted (eugenic abortion is the term). The pressure to undergo genetic testing and eugenic abortion is formidable. The people who advocate this stuff even call it "curing genetic diseases" when the "cure" is to eliminate the patient!

Every life is precious, regardless of how worthwhile that life appears to be to somebody else.

You are absolutely right, those people have no business in the medical profession.

Ooops. Excuse me while I climb back down from my soapbox. It so happens this is an issue I'm very passionate about.

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
I think that you should take into consideration their response and then discuss it with the instructor. If the instructor seems just as ignorant and helpless about handling it in the future, then you definitely have basis to go to the director.

The bottom line is that while everyone is entitled to their views, they are obviously uneducated about mental illness and the teacher should have stepped in and offered the opportunity for other responses from student who may know better (yourself) OR at the very least, suggested that those students do some further research on the subject.


Former desparate mom
My first thought was that Hitler agreed with her. His views didn't quite turn out so well. She needs a little education.


There's enough stigma out there. The medical community should be the one leading the charge to educate people on these issues. I would definitely talk to the professor and/or the director.


Active Member
You might go ahead and tell the "new teacher" and the director and offer to have someone from either your community mental health agency or NAMI come and give the statistics of mental health in your area.

Better to educate and hopefully you'll gain some more supporters.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Here we go again I do know that eugenics is on the upsurge. It's being taught in medication schools and colleges as bioethics. Frightening thought, huh? Not all, but many.

Our ethics teacher had us research the topic. Gave me nightmares. Since she's the only eithics instructor I know these others students also researched eugenics. My Biology professor also discussed eugenics at length to remind people of our not so distant past. (he's a geneticist who quit research due to eugenics philosophy.)

The director of the phlebotomy/ medical assisting programs is easy to talk to. I think we'll just discuss it with her and get her feedback. It certainly would reflect poorly on the school if they have students going into the community with such biased attitudes. Good grief. One of the hospitals we have clinicals at is a psychiatric treatment center. :slap: Can't wait to see their reaction to that environment. lol

None of this helped my friend who is already nervous enough about clinicals that are coming up in the next week or so. Stability hasn't been an easy thing for her to reach. She's spent many visits in the ER of one of the hospitals we'll be working in. I keep telling her that HIPPA protects her. Her psychiatrist filled out a form saying she is stable enough for the program. This psychiatrist is also N's psychiatrist. No way would she fill out that form unless she was sure. And the director of the program knows all of this. But friend is scared of trouble anyway. And now this incident. sigh


Well-Known Member
They're ignorant! I don't think you could do more than what you did by confronting them. Telling the teacher will get you nowhere in my opinion. They will reveal their ignorance soon enough and pay the consequences, they won't get very far in their profession. Take comfort in that thought.-Alyssa