Problems of daily living are not forms of insanity


Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness in Light of the Pandemic?

By Caroline Colwill

June 18, 2020

A mad in america writerAs many Americans currently struggle with mental health issues arising from the coronavirus and its fallout, can we not now begin to understand that people who have experienced what gets labelled and treated as mental illness have also arrived at their distressed states through difficult life and situational experiences?  It’s easy, under normal circumstances, to explain away other people’s distress as a biochemical imbalance in the brain or faulty genes.  Now that so many are experiencing distress because of fears of their own mortality and that of their loved ones, economic hardship, isolation, great uncertainty about the future, and a loss of a sense of control, can we not appreciate that many who have been labelled mentally ill have long experienced these kinds of hardships?

Are people who are experiencing the worst of the coronavirus fallout today and the resultant mental distress the new mentally ill, or are they just normal people responding in understandable ways?  If they who are currently experiencing distress are just normal, who is to say that the mentally ill are not also just normal too, but we are in the dark about what caused their distress.  Is there a clear dividing line between normal and abnormal people?

The mental health industry, in its various forms throughout the centuries, has a long history of pathologizing and inhumanely treating the mad to great profit.  The antidepressant market value in 2018 was over $13 billion, and it’s predicted to rise as an ever-expanding group of people are driven into its web.  Are these people really mentally ill and in need of medication?  Should people who are experiencing distress because of the coronavirus take psychiatric drugs?

Congress has recognized, and to some extent tried to alleviate, the economic fallout of the pandemic.  There are people who have experienced economic hardship that has nothing to do with the coronavirus, and I am one of them.  Rather than being helped financially in 2002, I was started on antidepressants.  This was to the great profit of the mental health industry, but not to my benefit.

Financial help when you’re experiencing great financial hardship can bring great mental relief.  This is common sense.  Why is it, then, that we as a society treat people’s life difficulties with psychiatric drugs and other mental health treatments rather than lending a helping hand?  Is it appropriate to label someone with a mental illness when he is only expressing a normal human response to unspeakable difficulties?

For more, please go to this Mad in America blog post.***