Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Attacks on Ashley Judd Show Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Alive and Well

Politics can be a tough game, especial in high-profile seats in Congress where the stakes are high and political advisors will do anything to get their candidate in office or do anything to keep their opponents out. Sex scandals are usually the top issues that can bring a campaign to a halt quickly, but recently, it was uncovered that depression and mental health issues were the target of a well-known candidate for a U.S. Senate seat. Ashley Judd, born Ashley Tyler Ciminella, is a Kentucky native known for her roles in movies such as “Smoke,” “Heat,” “Norma Jean and Marilyn” and “Kiss the Girls,” for which she was nominated for several awards. Lately, she drummed up headlines for her consideration of the Kentucky Senate seat currently filled by Mitch McConnell. Drawing even more headlines than her consideration for that seat, which she ultimately decided not to run for, was an audiotape that had McConnell and his staff discussing using her mental health history against her. One person on the staff mentioned that Judd was “emotionally unbalanced” and that she was hospitalized for more than a month for a “mental breakdown.” While the McConnell camp looks to the FBI to find out how that conversation was recorded and leaked to the public, the issue of the public’s view on mental health issues comes up for discussion. Mental health officials can’t help those they don’t see, and people often don’t seek out assistance with their mental health issues due to the stigma surrounding it. Psychiatrists are amazed that the person who will go to the general practitioner for a routine checkup won’t do the same for their mental health. The negative perception of seeking advice for mental health has changed in recent years as seeking out therapy is fairly common in some parts of the U.S. But in politics, it’s still fertile ground to be played upon.

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