mental illness and familyThe Fall edition of the NAMI Advocate (2012) contains an interesting article by NAMI Communications Coordinator Brendan McLean entitled “The Hope for Mental Illness Research: Dr. Tom Insel Shares the Latest Data at NAMI Convention.” But it wasn’t the discussion about research that piqued my interest. Instead, it was what Dr. Insel said about stigma and the importance of engaging the family in the recovery process.

Stigma Versus Discrimination

The article points out that advances in treatment for mental illnesses lag behind advances in treatments for other illnesses. McLean points out that some people attribute this to the stigma attached to mental illness. Dr. Insel seems to agree that stigma has hampered research, but he takes issue with the term stigma:

“It’s sort of a victim word,” says Dr. Insel. “I think what we’re trying to do is get more people empowered and trying to talk about this more as discrimination or injustice.”

I agree. What do you think?

The Importance of Engaging Family in Recovery

I also like what McLean and Dr. Insel say about engaging the family in recovery:

“Research into the circuits of the brain is not the only thing to be done, Dr. Insel notes. It is not just a matter of getting clearer pictures of the brain and identifying the neurons, cells, and structures in the brain. Evidence has continued to show one thing repeatedly: ‘If you look at those things that help to build resilience… one of the best is simply by getting families involved.’ It is not just all the brain talk that’s important; it is the human talk, too.”

Mom and son walking photo available from Shutterstock