Psychology Today: Why Do We Fear Mental Illness?
A column in Psychology Today, written by Dr. Peggy Drexler, poses the question: Why do we fear mental illness?
In particular Dr. Drexler notes that often when people encounter signs of mental illness in another person, the instinct is to not get involved.
“when it comes to mental illness, helping is, unfortunately, not our natural response. Instead, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, most people shy away from or avoid someone experiencing a mental health emergency. They think whatever the person is going through is “personal,” or that “it’s a family matter.” Often, they’re afraid to intervene or get too close. And so they don’t.
And yet it’s hard to imagine this same sort of reaction in other health contexts: witnessing someone slip and fall while crossing a busy street, for instance, or seeing someone have a heart attack or faint in a bookstore and passing by without stopping to help or make sure he or she is okay.”