Does mental health pledge make prejudice worse?

The signing on Thursday of a pledge committing Argyll and Bute Council to “tackling the stigma associated with mental health” - and The Buteman’s report of the event - has come in for criticism.

A retired mental health editor in Fort Myers, Florida, who read our article on www.buteman.co.uk (click on the link to the right to read the original story), says that by repeating the assertion that society stigmatises people who have experienced mental ill-health, we and the council are doing more harm than the original assertion, since many people have no such prejudice at all.

Harold A. Maio focussed on the sentence in our report which stated: “Councillor Roddy McCuish, Sally Loudon and ‘see me’ campaign director Suzie Vestri signed a pledge to tackle the stigma associated with mental ill-health before the start of Thursday’s full council meeting in Lochgilphead.”

Mr Maio emailed us to say: “Read your sentence carefully, it is simple grammar. It is they making the association, and you repeating it.

“You cannot possibly believe what they say is a universal; it is a prejudice held by some. And I doubt that it is held by you, though it is repeated by you.

“Were it practiced by you, you would violate employment law, but more importantly you have learned not to practice it. You are more caring than to do so.

“Who practices a prejudice is of great interest to me. Who asserts one for others to repeat interests me as well. There is more harm in the repeating than the asserting.

“How much greater an editor would be who did not fall to the temptation of repeating Ms Vestri. I do not, nor will I ever. I oppose anyone promoting a prejudice. And I do not repeat them.

“Do we actually experience a ‘stigma’? For you are writing about me. We are far too broad a demographic to do so. We are recognized for what we do, not any diagnosis.

“Some people experience prejudice. When was that not true? Some people experience this specific prejudice. When was that not true? Claiming we all do is irresponsible at best, and deliberately destructive if not.”

We certainly didn’t set out to perpetuate prejudice against those who have experienced mental ill-health by publicising Thursday’s signing: have we, and the council, and the ‘see me’ campaign, actually made things worse without realising it? Register or sign in below to give us your views.