When those with mental illnesses are relatively “normal” and able to function (more or less), displaying only the more “passive” symptoms, people are usually fine around them. They treat them like just another person, knowing full well (s)he has a condition.
However, once other symptoms show themselves, be it panic attacks, breakdowns, psychotic episodes, or anything that seems to be getting out of hand, those people are left alone and avoided, because they are one of the Crazies now.
I wonder if we can really blame them for reacting as such. People’s fear of mental illness is, more often than not, attributed to the media and ignorance. Stigma of mental illness in television has been an issue addressed by researchers from as early as 1989 (maybe earlier). This issue of the twisted portrayal of mental illness has only gotten more rampant.
The people we hate for discriminating against may only be trying to protect themselves. Granted, not all those who are mentally ill are dangerous. However, some really are, and people do not know who are dangerous and who aren’t. The same way not everyone on the Internet wants to murder/rob/stalk you, it makes good sense not to publish your house address online.
Should we, then, really blame people for avoiding and excluding the mentally ill when they’re only trying to protect themselves?