The Jaycee Lee Dugard Case - Why We Must Overcome Mental Health Stigma

The case of Jaycee Dugard being kidnapped by a sociopath, Phillip Garrido, at the age of 11 and held for 18 years, is why we need the help of mental health professionals. Furthermore, counseling will need to be extended to all members of Dugard's family, especially her 2 daughters. It is unfortunate, however, that seeking mental health counseling carries a stigma for many. In fact, Human Resource Administrators report that out of all employer sponsored health plans, mental health benefits are the most underutilized.

Employees and others fear job loss, social isolation, fear of being judged, and being looked upon as weak, as a result of seeking mental health counseling. In addition, an estimated 50 million Americans need this kind of therapy at some point in their lives, yet only one-fourth actually receive mental health and other services. The truth is, receiving counseling and other services can be priceless when helping people cope with traumatic events.

Of course, what the Dugard family is experiencing will require more extensive counseling than what the average person would need. Also, without therapy, it is doubtful the Dugard family can move forward from the abuse. The woman, Jaycee, has lived a life void of normal development, endured sexual assault for years by her captor and bore 2 children under inhuman conditions; no doubt she will have lifelong issues. Then, there are the children. They will have to acknowledge that the only father they've known and loved is a deranged man who kidnapped their mother and assaulted her for years. Upon entering school, for the first time, one can only hope that society will be kind and patient to her children as everyone will know their story.

Moreover, we cannot overlook the delicate situation of the grandparents. Jaycee's parents will need to find a way to do what grandparents do best; love their grandchildren. Coupled with reconnecting with their daughter and trying to comfort her, they must also accept grandchildren who were born out of such vile circumstances. With the help of regular family counseling, family harmony may be achieved. Consequently, if there are other victims of the Garridos, their families will also need therapy sessions.