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Mental Illness: A Modern-Day Leprosy?

Amerongen, Denae I.; Cook, Linda H.

doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0b013e3181d26050

Leprosy in the ancient world involved quarantine from family and society and great stigma. Similarly, mental illness today can involve separation, lost potential, and stigma. As with leprosy, most people misunderstand etiology, treatment, and prognosis in mental illness. Nurses are in a key position to educate, intervene, and improve mental health outcomes.

Leprosy, a terror of the ancient world, caused great stigma. Today, mental illness brings shame and separation. Nurses, caring like Jesus, can bring change.

Denae I. Amerongen is a third-year student in the School of Nursing at Grant MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada. This essay was originally written for her mental health nursing theory class.

Linda Hopper Cook, PhD, RN, teaches mental health nursing at Grant MacEwan University. Her research and writing focus on families dealing with struggles: aging, physical and mental abnormalities, and relationship issues.

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