It Is Scary, But It Doesn’t Have To Be

Yesterday’s mini-test was flawed for several reasons, but there was a lot to learn from it.
In case you missed the post the analogy to complete was:

HEART DISEASE : PREVENTABLE

SCHIZOPHRENIA : _______________

A) AVOIDABLE     B) SCARY     C) TREATABLE     D) CURABLE

1) I chose ‘schizophrenia’ to go against ‘heart disease’ because most people are unfamiliar with schizophrenia, outside of the fact that it’s a specific mental illness. I myself have very little understanding (relatively) of the condition; my expertise is in depression.

2) I selected four adjectives but there could have been different ones chosen, for sure. There is no way to box either condition – heart disease, or schizophrenia – into one adjective.

3) I have a very small readership – and most of you are in fact familiar with schizophrenia, or at least, care about mental health and stigma. So you all were unlikely to choose SCARY because you’re not scared of it.

The most common response was TREATABLE and this is, from the four choices given, a great answer. Notice, though, I didn’t say ‘the best’ or ‘the correct’ or ‘the truth.’

That’s because there was one brave person who responded SCARY, and I’ll add myself to that list for a tally of two.

What I mean to say is that, I know that schizophrenia is TREATABLE and it is entirely correct and true to say that.

But a thing can be both TREATABLE and SCARY. In fact, not knowing that it is TREATABLE makes it SCARY. Many people who don’t read mental illness blogs have no idea if it’s TREATABLE and therefore do find it SCARY.

The first step to changing the way we feel about something is admitting the feeling. If we pretend that it’s not SCARY, then we’re doing a disservice.

It’s a bit a circular logic, but, also, necessary conversation. Once we admit that it’s SCARY then, it doesn’t have to be anymore.

Heart disease is SCARY too. Have you seen those anti-smoking campaigns? Why do you think they’re effective?

What kind of campaign could we design to show people that mental illness doesn’t have to be so scary?

If TREATABLE is what we want everyone to feel, then we have to show them how.

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