The image selected shows children suffering from mental retardation. The children however are all beaming and are happy despite the condition that life has dealt them. The condition of having an intelligence quotient of than 70 is clinically regarded as mental retardation. The fact us that mental retardation is not a disease in the strict sense of the word. Mental retardation is a condition that leaves the victim struggling to master their cognitive abilities. However, many individuals around the world are able to fight it to try and make themselves better. Mental retardation has been a huge challenge to society because the victims are not in a cognitive position to determine their condition. Since the early nineties, researchers have shed more light on the condition with a view to reducing stigma (Taylor, 2000).Psychological rehabilitation often accompanies cases of mental retardation. This stems from the fact that stigma is rife in society. Stigma increases the uphill task of learning how to cope with disability.
Mental retardation is one of the most overt conditions. People tend to label that which they cannot fathom as weird. For example, in some societies the children shown in the image may be considered outcasts in society. Stigma emanates from the lack of understanding portrayed by people. The children may be viewed as incapable and unhappy. However as shown in the image they are happy and it is unfortunate that people who have encountered disabilities in life have an additional tag to deal with. The discrimination towards the children shown may lead to extreme cases of depression and schizophrenia. Given the nature of symptoms associated with mental retardation, it is very difficult to realise when a mentally retarded person is struggling with depression. Most people would assume that the symptoms are a regular part of mental retardation. Suicidal tendencies can infiltrate the mind of a stigmatised person. In cases where the cognitive abilities of the person are impaired, as is the case in mental retardation, it is difficult to predict the reactions (Dudley, 2002).
Most of the discrimination directed at mentally challenged people is based on two parameters. The first parameter is that of warmth (Dudley, 2002). This refers to the apparent gentle nature – or lack of it, from a mentally challenged person. Most people rely on the second parameter; competence at the challenge. The competence is regarded as being the extent to which the person fits the bill of the stereotype (Waldman, Swerdloff, & Perlman, 2003). For example, the children in the picture may be views by society as incapable in life. The generalisation that mentally challenge people are violent does not help the case. To most people, mental retardation is synonymous with psychosis. The subsequent ridicule directed at the mentally challenged people wreaks havoc in their lives. A practising nurse once took a couple of children through tests to acquaint them with the experience of being mentally incompetent. Such tests acquaint people with the unique challenges experienced by victims (Wadsworth, & Cocco, 2002).
The criminal justice system is on record as being brutal to mentally challenged individuals (Soejima, 2003). The Supreme Court outlawed the conviction of mentally retarded people in a landmark ruling. The case law was set when the court upheld that executing a mentally retarded person is antithetical to the eighth amendment that protects people from cruelty (Soejima, 2003). A curious case of a man on death row for ten years provides a basis for the case law. The accused, Earl Washington, was on death row for a crime he did not commit. Police investigator pressured him into conceding guilt. After ten years on death row, DNA evidence cleared him of any wrongdoing. The rampant stigma is currently sloughing off after awareness efforts started gaining round.
In conclusion, it is evident that the children in the picture should be protected from stigma so that they can be able to lead excellent lives. Children with mental retardation often encounter difficulty emanating from stigma associated with their conditions. The advances made in legislation and awareness campaigns across the country have facilitated understanding and acceptance. It takes concerted efforts to ditch the stereotypes but it serves to enable the mentally challenged to cope with their difficulties (Waldman, Swerdloff, & Perlman, 2003). An informative campaign would go a long way towards creating an enabling environment for the mentally challenged (Gordon, Tantillo, Feldman, & Perrone, 2004).
Dudley, JR 2002, 'Confronting Stigma within the Services System', Social Work, 45, 5, p. 449, MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.
Waldman, H, Swerdloff, M, & Perlman, S 2003, 'Children with mental retardation: stigma and stereotype images are hard to change', ASDC Journal Of Dentistry For Children, 66, 5, p. 343, MEDLINE, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.
Soejima, H 2003, 'Legal welfare for lawbreakers with mental retardation', Seishin Shinkeigaku ZasshPsychiatria Et Neurologia Japonica, 105, 7, pp. 854-858, MEDLINE, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.
Douzenis, Anasthassios. "The Mentally Ill in Greece." International Journal Of Mental Health 35, no. 4 (Winter2006 2006): 42-46. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 11, 2012).
Taylor, SJ 2000, '`You're Not a Retard, You're Just Wise.'', Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography, 29, 1, p. 58, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.
Wadsworth, J, & Cocco, K 2002, Career Development And Adults With Moderate To Severe Mental Retardation, n.p.: ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.
Gordon, P, Tantillo, J, Feldman, D, & Perrone, K 2004, 'Attitudes Regarding Interpersonal Relationship with Persons with Mental Illness and Mental Retardation', Journal Of Rehabilitation, 70, 1, pp. 50-56, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost, viewed 11 September 2012.