A rethink about Kerry?
If you looked at the news last week - especially the showbiz sections that no one ever admits to reading (including me) - you won't have failed to notice the widespread coverage of an appearance on ITV's This Morning by former Atomic Kitten singer and I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! winner Kerry Katona. The programme denied talk of an "ambush" of the star, after presenter Phillip Schofield interrupted the interview to question her about her slurred speech, which she said was due to the medication she has been prescribed - including an anti-psychotic drug called Chlorpromazine. Kerry Katona has made the headlines a great deal in the past year or so because of her well-documented drug addiction and mental health problems, and has received treatment for both.
Responding to the story, mental health charity Rethink has now released a strongly-worded statement with the title Laughing at Kerry Katona's speech is like poking fun at a wheelchair. (Personally, I have a suspicion that Rethink meant to say "wheelchair user", since a wheelchair ia an inanimate object that wouldn't particularly mind having fun poked at it - but maybe I'm splitting hairs.)
In the statement, Rethink agrees with Kerry's assertion that "medication for mental illnesses [can] often cause side-effects like slurred speech and drowsiness", and goes on to say:
We wouldn't dream of making fun of someone with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair , so why is it still socially acceptable to have a good laugh at someone who is being treated for a mental health problem? Thousands of people are affected by mental illness and receive treatment that can cause side-effects. And like Kerry they are often stigmatised because of it.
The press release concludes: "If you wouldn't poke fun at someone with a physical disability for using a wheelchair, don't do it to someone with a mental illness for merely taking their medication".
Some people have suggested that Katona was badly advised when she decided to appear on such a high profile show whilst experiencing the effects of her medication, but an opposing argument would be that she had every right to go on the show, especially if she is talking frankly about her mental health? But what do you think? Does the outcry over her interview on This Morning show a lack of understanding about mental health problems and the medication used to treat them?