Stop Stigmatizing Mentally Ill Children on Medication
If you’re not following the Bipolar Burble blog on Facebook, you likely missed it but we had quite a conversation last night about an image that’s going around Facebook. The image says, “STOP PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF KIDS.” The image is of an innocent, sweet-faced child holding up a sign with the words. The image is attributed to a user on Facebook whose political views are listed as “anarchism.”
Regardless as to who made this image, the image itself has been circulating in, you guessed it, antipsychiatry circles. (I won’t bother drawing lines between antipsychiatry and anarchism, but, you know, I probably could.)
Not surprisingly, one reader with a mentally ill child took offence to this image and all the passing around of it.
This image suggests that:
- Giving psychiatric medication to children constitutes “drugging”
- Parents shouldn’t be giving their children medication
- Children shouldn’t be taking medication
- Parents who give their children medication are doing something wrong
In other words, it stigmatizes both parents of, and mentally ill children themselves.
In other words it spreads negativity, hate and prejudice.
The Psychiatric Drugging of Children
If you’ve read my piece on psychiatric disorders and medication in children you’ll note that I’m very against drugging children. Quite frankly, when I think about a child being put on the kind of medication I’ve had to take, I feel a little nauseated.
However you’ll also note that I say that sometimes it is the right thing to do. And when I wrote the piece I was far less educated on the matter, but now, actually knowing someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a child, I can say that I was right about that.
Sometimes psychiatric medications are required in children and not giving a child medication would be cruel. Just like withholding any other medical treatment can be cruel.
Stop Stigmatizing Kids Who Need Psychiatric Medication
I rather took offence as well. That’s why I made this image:
This image has been removed because, indeed, someone else owned it and was more than a little unhappy that I modified it and posted it.
now, perhaps, those who are passing around the “STOP PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF KIDS” think they are, somehow, helping. But they are not. They are simply further stigmatizing a group of people who have suffered enough thank you – mentally ill children and their parents. They are stigmatizing kids with a medical issue – just like any other.
Are kids overmedicated? Maybe. That’s not really my area. What I can say is that when a child needs medication they need compassion, support and understanding and not further hatred and stigma. I guarantee these mentally ill children and their parents feel bad enough without us piling on about how “drugging” them is “wrong.”
So today, during Mental Illness Awareness Week, I ask you to share this article or the image. Show your support for kids with a mental illness. Show your support for the parents that have to make the impossible choice to medicate. Show that mental illness awareness includes children too. Show that stigmatizing anyone for taking medication is wrong.
Because these kids and their parents are part of our community and they deserve a little backup.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.