Unmet Needs: “Folk Wisdom” about health perpetuates stereotypes


Joey Ramp gets uncomfortable in large crowds of people. New places also make her uneasy. It’s her service dog, Theo, and her highly regimented schedule that helps her handle her anxiety and cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Theo is always with her, and since her disability isn’t visible, she says people are curious. Sometimes they ask; sometimes they don’t. “Most often, when people ask and I say I have PTSD, people want to thank me for my service.”

That makes it awkward for Ramp to explain that she never served in the military.

Kay White, an Associate Professor of Behavioral Science at Millikin University, says the fact that those conversations happen is a product of the “folk wisdom” that she says we often rely on when it comes to understanding and talking about mental health. 

During our #WILLchat on Twitter, that was a part of our series "Unmet Needs: living with mental illness in central Illinios," you asked how to start conversations about mental health and mental illness, during this Focus interview, we’ll mull it over. In this Focus interview, host Scott Cameron talks with Ramp and White about stereotypes and misunderstandings when it comes to mental illness.