Shocking look at mental illness

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MENTAL-HEALTH campaigners yesterday launched a hard-hitting campaign to improve the way society and the media treat the mentally ill, writes Glenda Cooper.

It contrasts racial abuse with words used to categorise those with mental problems. A poster by Trevor Beattie's GGT agency poses the question: "Nigger, wop, coon, chink, yid, paki, honky, kraut, wog - unacceptable racial abuse? Loony, mong, nutter, psycho moron, div - acceptable forms of mental abuse?" Mr Beattie said: "These words, unfortunately, are in common usage. "What I've done is try to crystallise ... a complex issue and put it starkly. We've run up 50 posters and we'll put them up wherever we're allowed to."

One in four people is affected by mental illness; a World Health Organisation report says that by 2020 more people will suffer from mental than physical ailments. The charity Mind, which is leading the campaign, said it hopes to make people confront the realities of the illness.

Mental patients failing to take their medication is the principal factor in 60 per cent of killings carried out by care in the community patients, the Zito Trust said yesterday in a report that looked at 35 inquiries into homicides by the mentally ill since 1992.