Mental illness—not a laughing matterBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b708 (Published 23 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b708
All rapid responses
I am writing to echo the sentiments of Naaheed Mukadam
(Mental Illness - not a laughing matter BMJ 2009;338:b708)
As a trainee psychiatrist, I have come across similar
situations where there seems to be poor understanding of
mental illness. The most disturbing aspect is that medical
professionals including doctors and nurses who perhaps
don’t deal with mental illness on a regular basis seem to
have lack of empathy and respect for patients with mental
During my first post as a trainee, I was asked to review a
patient with long standing Schizophrenia who had been
admitted to a medical ward with a physical health concern.
I arrived on the ward and asked the nurse in charge where
the patient was located. At that moment, we heard a scream
from one of the rooms. The nurse laughed and pointed in
In my opinion, symptoms of mental illness are more
challenging to bear than a broken bone or a failing heart
because the experience cannot be objectively measured using
blood tests or radiography. It is high time professionals
developed understanding of mental illness. Only then will
attempts to minimise the stigma of mental illness among the
general population become successful.
1. Crown S, Lee A (2001) Psychiatric stigma. British
Journal of Psychiatry (178) 281-284.
2. Gray AJ (2002) Stigma in Psychiatry. Journal of the
Royal Society of Medicine. (95) 72-76.
Competing interests: No competing interests