Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cousins among the medically oppressed

Campaign to recognise dangers of mental illness - Independent Online Edition > Health Annotated

Stigma also played a part in denying mental patients treatment for physical illness. An Australian study found mental patients with heart disease were less than half as likely to receive surgery for their condition and were 80 per cent more likely to die from it than unaffected patients.
"We have missed these links [between mental and physical health]. Without them we fail to capture the full impact of mental illness," Professor Prince said.

Um, ya think?

Actually, those figures from the Australian study are horrifying for someone with ME/CFIDS, a disease that some still consider to be a psychiatric illness. Like this bastard (who you will note I mentioned with some derision in the post on the Georgia prevalence figures), who heads the primary care clinic for ME/CFIDS in the UK and believes that wheelchairs and handicapped parking permits shouldn't be given to people with ME/CFIDS because it will create "dependence." Or that people with ME/CFIDS do not have neuropathic pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and chemical sensitivities. Because, you know, we're mentally ill, not physiologically. Seriously, I can't believe this is STILL going on but I read the linked article today, which deals with the discussions concerning the recent guidelines the British National Health Service (NHS) put together for physicians regarding ME/CFIDS. Grrr...

In an online group about ME/CFIDS that I read sometimes, someone posted a few months back about how even though our disease is not one of mental illness, the language a lot of us use regarding mental illness is often highly derogatory. Mental illness is very real, even if physicians use psychology to invalidate our suffering. I thought it was an important point. I don't want to be diagnosed with depression because it's incorrect, not because I dislike the diagnosis.

And how many of us have, say, heart disease but it's missed because doctors think we, like patients with mental illness, are just hysterical and need a bottle of Prozac and a shrink? Instead of pushing the mentally ill away as far as possible from us, we should be embracing them as our cousins among the medically oppressed.

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