Re: The Definition of Insanity

The Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed article entitled “The Definition of Insanity“, here is my letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

I am writing in regards to your inflammatory, and defamatory op-ed “The Definition of Insanity”, I sincerely hoped since it was penned on April Fool’s Day, it was a joke that you intended to correct by the end of the opinion, unfortunately, I was mistaken.

The gist of your article, and the mindset behind AOT provision of the Medicare Docs bill, which was unfortunately passed and signed into law, last night, and in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act which is scheduled for a hearing tomorrow in the House Sub-Committee on Health, are based on the flawed and constantly disproved theory that persons with mental health challenges are more violent than persons without mental health challenges.  The truth is in fact, that persons with mental health challenges  are more than three times more likely to be the VICTIMS of violence than persons without mental health challenges.

The largest stumbling block is not SAMHSA, its the defamatory stereotypes which your op-ed “The Definition of Insanity” continues to perpetrate, despite the fact that they have long been disproved.  Someone with mental health challenges are going to be less likely to say, “I want help!” as long as supposedly educated persons such as your publication continue to perpetuate disproved stereotypes and stigmas which surround persons who are living with mental health challenges.

For many years, I listened to persons such as your publication when they told me that I would never be able to do anything because of my mental health challenges. I listened and took that burden on. For years, because I took that burden on, I was a burden to the system. It was only after I learned that there are a significant majority of persons, who have been diagnosed with severe mental health challenges who can and do recover, live successful lives, and become able to contribute to their communities as valued members of society, was I able to break free from the stereotypes and stigmas that your publication insists on perpetuating.

Recovery is an option for anyone with mental health challenges, and anyone who wants it can achieve it. If society stops spreading the stereotypes and stigmas that make it harder for people who are experiencing mental health challenges to want to look for help.

On June 3, 2013, President Obama made the following statements in The National Conference on Mental Health “We know that recovery is possible, we know help is available, and yet, as a society, we often think about mental health differently than other forms of health. You see commercials on TV about a whole array of physical health issues, some of them very personal. And yet, we whisper about mental health issues and avoid asking too many questions. The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it.  And there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love.  We’ve got to get rid of that embarrassment; we’ve got to get rid of that stigma. Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.”

Your publication should actually take time to look at the cost-effectiveness of promoting recovery, as opposed to spending $60 million dollars on less effective and more stigmatizing treatment options such as AOT, instead of perpetuating the stereotypes and stigmas which make persons who want help, want to avoid seeking the help that they want to ask for.

Joseph Alex Martin is a Copeland Center-certified Mental Health Recovery including Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Advanced Level Co-Facilitator. Joseph began utilizing his own WRAP in 2008 following his certification as a Peer Support Specialist. Joseph was a Certified Peer Support Specialist in Pennsylvania for 9 1/2 years, and is now living in New Jersey and working in New York. In his role as a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Joseph supports the recovery of his peers in their plans to take action to recover wellness in their lives.