Vatz's view of mental illness is reprehensible [Letter]

To say I was appalled by Richard Vatz's recent commentary on mental illness would be an understatement ("Stigma can be a good thing," April 8).

Mr. Vatz takes us back more than 50 years to psychiatrist and author Thomas Szasz' book, "The Myth of Mental Illness," while ignoring all the research and studies done since then.

Mr. Vatz must lead a perfect life, with no depression, no thought disorder, no PTSD and no mood disorder, not even anxiety. So he's fine with stigmatizing all of the people he sees as having "fake" complaints who act out behaviors they "choose" to engage in.

As he sees it, if you didn't seek help — and here I refer especially to what we know about Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans — it's your own fault, not because there is stigma.

Further, I see that Mr. Vatz uses the term "parity" in quotes — as if this were just another insignificant concept. Why should the treatment of depression, for example, have a lower reimbursement rate than diabetes? Is it because one "chooses" to be depressed but not to be diabetic?

It is truly discouraging that a faculty member at a respected university would hold such views.

Janan Broadbent, Baltimore

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