I’m sitting here watching TV after a long day of school and work and the Dr. Phil show comes on. The episode is called “Get out of my house: The ultimate mother vs. nanny feud”. It is an absolute ridiculous situation in which a nanny refuses to leave a house for 30 days based on the fact that legally she is entitled to stay for that time despite the family’s obvious opposition to the situation.
But it is not the situation that got my attention. It is the fact that the mother used the line “have you been tested? Do you have a mental disorder?”.
This statement is wrong on SO MANY levels. I mean, for starters she is insinuating that only someone with a mental disorder would be so unreasonable and outlandish. Furthermore, the question also insinuates that people with mental health issues are in some way incapable of acting “normal” therefore, being the ONLY reasonable explanation for the nanny’s actions.
This woman is a prime example of the stigmatization of mental illness. As someone who has been diagnosed with not one, not two, but FOUR mental illnesses, I can assure you that you could not be more wrong in your apparent understanding of mental illness. I can also testify to the fact that mental illness has no impact on my perception of this situation as I can clearly see how the actions of both the nanny and mother are wrong in many respects. Thus, my ability to recognize the issues at hand completely undermines the mother’s assumption that the nanny must have a mental disorder if she cannot understand what the situation looks like from the mother’s perspective.
The fact of the matter is that the mother and the nanny are on opposing sides of the argument. As with any argument, it can be difficult to understand where the other person is coming from. However, that does not mean that it is okay to belittle individuals who suffer with mental disorders. To do so is absolutely disgusting.
Mental illness is a serious health condition for many individuals and it should not be used as an insult in an argument. I understand that there are some situations in which mental illness may affect one’s ability to perceive reality; however, the woman on the show is quite obviously of sound mind. Therefore, the mother’s accusations are unwarranted and intended solely as an insult. To be honest, I’m sort of surprised that Dr. Phil did not call her out of her belittling accusations, but that’s the reality TV biz for you I suppose.
Regardless, this is a perfect example of how mental illness continues to be stigmatized. Clearly we still have plenty of work to do in order to end the stigma.