Wrong to stigmatize mental illness [Letter]

I read the commentary by Richard E. Vatz ("Stigma can be a good thing," April 8) in which he claimed that some mentally ill deserve a stigma. I wish I can say that I enjoyed his views, but I am very disappointed that someone employed as a professor at Towson University could be clueless about mental illness.

The following statement is very offending and is far from the truth: "In fact, there is no evidence that mental health professionals and counseling can reduce violence or even identify dangerous people better than layperson." According to Mr. Vatz, thousands of psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists have wasted their time for the training to help the mentally ill or distressed people.

Mr. Vatz was able to write this article by mentioning some books and articles, but he was not able to understand their meaning. This makes me wonder about the mental status of the writer at the time he wrote his commentary. Most mental illness comes to surface after some type of stress. I think prevention is better than a cure. Recognizing the issue at an early stage helps the prevention of serious disease. The same is true for the other medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. We do not need discouraging and nonsensical opinion pieces like the one Mr. Vatz has produced.

There is a very thin line between a normal mind and abnormal mind. We all should respect those with an illness and should not say that people can self-inflict their mental illness. I have been treating mentally distressed and mentally ill patients for long time, and I find that we can help people and make them more functional in society.

Dr. Mahendra S. Khera, Sykesville

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