By Soala Idasetima
York College of Pennsylvania psychology professors, Dr. Carla Strassle, Dr. Jennifer Engler, Dr. Randi Shedlosky-Shoemaker and Dr. Perri B. Druen, fight against the stigma of mental disorders, through their curriculum, by advocating against the use of words such as “crazy.”
Rationalizing for the advocacy against such words, Strassle stated, “Words have meaning. When we get to the point that we’re numb to the words used, then we can’t do the job we need to do on the behalf of people. One drop causes a ripple effect—one person changing their words can have a ripple effect.”
Strassle also implied that these words can change people’s perception of mental disorders. “By taking out those words, it can reduce stereotypical beliefs,” said Strassle.
By incorporating this advocacy into their curricula, each professor educates their students about the effect of these words, in attempt to decrease mental disorder stigma and further their goals.
The student body has mixed opinions about this advocacy project.
Chris Gause, a senior psychology major, first heard about this plan his freshman year and was kind of skeptical, thinking that perhaps the faculty didn’t get it. “Then I realized I didn’t get it. There are better words to use to describe ‘crazy,’ and once I realized it was insensitive, I was in full support,” said Gause.
Tom Freed, a senior psychology major, who has been diagnosed with depression, had a different opinion. “The intention is good but I don’t think it’s solving anything; it’s a surface-level solution. The real issue is stigmatizing mental health issues. We treat mental disorders like they’re wrong,” said Freed.
Keshwar Dowlatram, a senior recreational and leisure administration major, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, believes that the project is a verbal attempt to deal with the issue and will not solve the issue at hand. “[Being called crazy] hurts,” he said.
Some Psychology professors suggested that people watch their language and begin to recognize when others and the media is perpetuating stigma. Dowlatram suggested that spreading awareness about mental disorders in public schools, just as sex education is taught, would be beneficial.
To learn more about the psychology professors’ advocacy project, go to nami.org.