Thank you, Nicholas Kristof, for sharing the story of Andrew Francesco [“Kids: a pharmaceutical gold mine,” Opinion, Nov. 6]. It sheds light on how pharmaceutical companies often take advantage of those who are living with a mental illness for profitable reasons.
I would like to add that the story of Andrew can also be seen as a case of stigmatization. Those who are living with a mental illness are highly stigmatized in our society, where we tend to demoralize them by blocking them of their basic needs, such as housing and employment. As a result, they internalize these stigmatizing ideas causing them to feel shame, low self-esteem, and they isolate themselves to avoid these perceptions.
In the case of Andrew, stigmatization can be seen. He was kicked out of multiple schools and, as a result, he started feeling frustrated, unhappy and alarmed. The fact that Andrew was taken advantage by pharmaceutical companies by receiving medication after medication at such a young age further shows our society’s stigmatization of viewing people with mental illness as vulnerable humans who do not recover.
It is important to highlight how stigmatization and discrimination experienced by those who are living with a mental illness can worsen their condition. As often as possible, we must counteract such portrayals by identifying their strengths. If we could only read more stories that reflect the success of people living with a mental illness in our communities.
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Lupe Guel, Seattle