The Stigma Behind Psychiatric Care and How it’s Detrimental


Courtesy of Del Amo Behavioral Health Center

The courtyard, where I frequently spent my time playing football with my friends and jamming to tunes through the radio.

Gabby McCutchan, Section Editor

Insane asylums, uncontrollable patients, evil doctors, and indigestible food. The addition of these words adds up to what the common person thinks of when they hear the words “psychiatric care.” 

The hidden truth of what psychiatric care is really like is hidden behind a curtain that most prefer to keep drawn, tucked away in a room encompassed with dust and ignorance. 

Now let me open the curtain and let you peek through. 

Wake up at 8am, eat breakfast and socialize until 9am, meet with your peers until 9:30am, wash up and get ready for the day until about 10:30am, discuss the agenda with your peers until 11:00am, make phone calls, take medications, watch TV, read, draw, or do puzzles until lunch is ready at about 12pm. 

After lunch, enjoy the privilege of having free time until about 3pm, going outside, taking a nap, visiting your parents, playing sports with the girls, or intensely being taught how to master the game of Sudoku with your friends. 

Eat dinner at 5pm, afterwards bringing blankets and snacks to the main dayroom where everyone piles together in a cuddled group to binge watch the entire Twilight movie series. 

First one, then two, then three, then in groups of five, slowly head to your rooms, where you pretend to be asleep while the hallway monitors walk by to ensure everyone is asleep by “lights out,” when in reality you’re giggling and whispering about the most recent boy you’ve kissed. 

Anything sound familiar? Almost as though I’ve described a large portion of what could be a normal Saturday day you’ve experienced? That’s because it is a lot like what you’ve experienced. What a lot of us go through everyday. Still want to keep that curtain drawn, the room so dusty your eyes water uncontrollably every time you walk in the room?

Clean that room. There’s nothing in there that needs to be tucked away, shunned from the view of the public. 

Psychiatric care is just like going to a day camp. You’re monitored, taken care of, and made sure that you’ve had a relatively positive experience. 

The patients aren’t crazy like they’re made out to be in the movies. The girls I personally met while under psychiatric care have become part of my biggest support system, and although we haven’t gotten the chance to link up in person, I still talk to them everyday. They’re people that you see at your high school, girls who squeal and giggle and obsess over the latest trends, who relate over similar music tastes and share the same hopes and dreams for the future. 

Seventeen girls in one small hallway can be a lot for some, but knowing that everyone is there specifically for the same reason that you are is comforting in a way that any day camp couldn’t compare to. 

There’s virtually no gossip, no drama, no negative energies. Because everyone there only wants to see others thrive and grow mentally and psychologically, as well as themselves. Although many of us have seen how quickly the mind can devolve into scary regions, there’s never any judgement. We’re a team. That takes care of each other.

And when the time comes to see a friend leave, to be sent back into our separate lives, only love and support fill the room as the traditional group hug clogs the hallway.

Give me one valid reason as to why psychiatric care should be looked down upon. One. Because you think you’ll look crazy once you come back, thriving and improved mentally? Because you’ve been gone for a week, creating a support system that is unquestionably one of the sturdiest you’ve ever had? Because the doctors will decide to put you on medication, medication that makes you want to talk to that person, get up in the morning, or find the motivation to study for that test? 

The stereotypes about a mental institution being the worst place you could possibly be sent to is detrimental in the worst way. Never have I ever been in a place where I felt more safe and secure. 

If you’re experiencing extreme depression and anxiety at this time in your life, don’t push it away. Don’t let it manifest and take over your life. There’s help out there. There’s people like you, your age, similar interests, similar situations, similar fears, going through the same thing you are. 

In the most non-cliche type of way, seek help. This time of your life does not define you, and does not determine what you’ll become. Depression is simply a small kink in your life that just needs to be worked with. 

Keeping the curtains drawn only leads to the stigma that discourages young people from seeking help at psychiatric facilities. 

In the new decade, I hope that the negative stigma and stereotypes that revolve around seeking help and reaching out will be taken care of and put away, just like depression.