If Mental Illnesses Had To Recruit

January 29, 2013 Alistair McHarg

I am happy to be associated with the Stand Up For Mental Health campaign that HealthyPlace has launched; and I am very proud of all those brave individuals who have helped stamp out stigma by going public with the details of their mental health challenges.Get your Stand Up for Mental Health buttons for website, blog, social profile

However, lately I’ve been tormented by the strangest hypothetical scenario. What would happen to the most popular mental illnesses if everyone simply shed their embarrassment and shame, opting out of quiet suffering in favor of actively seeking out qualified help at the first sign of trouble?

The potential impact on emotional damage resulting from mental illness would be incalculable, leaving behind a small army of unemployed bartenders, phlebotomists, drug dealers, psychiatrists, bookies, self-help gurus, pharmacists, escorts, acupuncturists, and life coaches. One’s man’s meat, as the old saying quite possibly goes, is another man’s foul; and in the land of unintended consequences no good deed to a model home goes unpunished.

In the interests of clarity, I digress. It may surprise me to tell you that the military was not always voluntary, indeed, young men were arbitrarily entered into a draft and called upon to serve in whatever global mischief the government was indulging in at the time. Those who refused were given three options, jail, Canadian citizenship, or conversion to Quakerism – (sometimes known by the more formal handle – Society Of Friends). Faced with such horrific alternatives, even the most weak-kneed raw recruit begged for immediate transfer to Paris Island.

Back then the military did not need to advertise the way it does now. With the arrival of an all-volunteer army came a brand new form of advertising. In a mad scramble for America’s youth, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the really creepy military branch we’re not supposed to know about – whoops – outdid each other with ludicrous and disingenuous promises of advanced degrees, travel to exotic vacation spots, all night poker games, and retirement packages so lavish they would bring a blush to the cheeks of even the most avaricious and bloodthirsty Fortune 500 CEO.

And so, he said, arriving at last at his point, I wondered what it would be like if mental illnesses became so unpopular they had to advertise. Then I imagined ad campaigns with headlines like these:

Bipolar Disorder: See How The Other Half – Of You – Lives

Odds Are You’ll Fall In Love With Compulsive Gambling

People Can’t Stop Talking About Tourette’s Syndrome

Discover Narcissism – You’ll Find It’s Everything I Thought It Would Be!

Depression! Expect The Worse And You’re Never Disappointed

Come to think of it, might be nice to see these hideous monsters go begging for a change. Stand Up For Mental Health and see what happens.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2013, January 29). If Mental Illnesses Had To Recruit, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

February, 7 2013 at 9:51 am

I'm mending well and hobbling about with my walker and cane.Doc says I'm right on track. Thanks for the well wishes.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
February, 7 2013 at 10:20 am


February, 7 2013 at 6:58 am

Unemployed phlebotomists, wouldn't that be a godsend.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
February, 7 2013 at 7:28 am

Hey Bud! I was wondering where you were. Hope you are mending well.

February, 3 2013 at 5:10 pm

I got on another one of your blogs and apologized once I realized how erudite you are on the subject and were in fact intending to be ludicrous... Your blogs are really enjoyable and I am humbly... amused.

February, 2 2013 at 10:31 pm

Interesting and somewhat humorous, and certainly well-intended. But my response is this: "NO, NO, NO!!!" The concept that mental illness is so easily treated that if people just got (very accessible) help promptly, it would almost disappear??? People would be put out of work because the problem would no longer exist??? WRONG!! Of course it is of highest importance that afflicted individuals get help- lots of it- immediately. And many more folks would be "cured", as it were. But many mental illnesses are highly intractable!! Very difficult to treat!! It is not stigma alone that keeps people ill; these diseases are very complicated and medicine has fallen far short of finding perfect, or even near perfect, solutions or even proven theories of etiology. There needs to be much much MUCH more research to even begin to eradicate mental illness. It is estimated that only one third of patients are helped by antidepressants; this is only one example. This was a cute little editorial, but (no offense intended)very simplistic. I hope the author realizes the complexity of many psychiatric diseases.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
February, 3 2013 at 3:06 am

only "somewhat" humorous? oh dear, it was intended to be ludicrous. i know there is no danger of ending mental illness son. thanks for reading.

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