Originally created 03/14/03

Calling mentally ill 'inmates' hurtful



On Feb. 24, The Chronicle published an editorial about the Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia. I cannot comment on the center, but this letter is to express my outrage with the title of your editorial, "Inmates in charge?"

We, the mental health consumers of this country, have worked and fought hard to eliminate stigma about mental illness. We are not inmates. We are consumers. The term "inmate" refers to someone who is incarcerated for a crime. Mental illness is not a crime. It is an illness like any other illness. We resent very much being referred to as inmates.

I represent the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and for the last 12 years, we have worked day and night to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness, and it hurts us all when you use the word "inmate" to refer to people with mental illness.

In the future, please work with us, instead of against us, to educate the public on how to get rid of the stigma of mental illness. The Chronicle has the perfect tool to help us rid the world of the bad name that people with mental illness have had to suffer with all their lives.

We hope that services for people with mental illness improve not only in the East Central area, but all over the state of Georgia.

Glenda B. Brown, Decatur, Ga.

(Editor's note: The writer is an adviser with the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network.)