The stigma of mental illness is debilitating for both patients and their families. Moreover, it can affect all aspects of life, including personal relations, employment opportunities and other preferred social relationships, and quality of living.
Even though we see ourselves as campaigners for growing acceptance and understanding of people struggling with mental health problems, most of us possibly contribute unconsciously to mental health stigma.
A study published in World Psychiatry states that the biggest challenge in ensuring good services for people with mental illness and helping them work in a society is stigma. People dealing with mental health problems also bear the stigma attached to it created by society itself. A mental health disease labels them in a way that makes people hate them, see them as violent, or consider them as non-human.
When you give information to people, they selectively recall it. However, they only remember things that fit in their opinions. Therefore, the first step is possible to change the mindset and attitude.
“Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” – Bill Clinton.
Some of the adverse effects of mental health stigma can include:
- Hesitancy to seek medical help or treatment.
- The feeling that you can never excel in many problems or that you won’t change your condition or life.
- Family, colleagues, co-workers, or others lack understanding.
- Fewer opportunities for jobs, school or social events, or homemaking issues.
What’s the best way to surmount this stigma?
The mind-sets prevailing in society make it incredibly difficult for them to do what they want to do. Mental health disorders are the largest and fastest-growing categories fuelled by the pandemic in the present scenario. It’s high time unless we can change a mentally ill person’s picture, any improvement is challenging.
The repetitive practice of people inaccurately giving self-diagnoses and even unwittingly stigmatizing mental health problems is a thing that needs to be changed. What if the dilution of mental health terminology prevents young people from seeking treatment who already suffer from mental illness?
If you experience any mental health condition – remember – You aren’t a disease. And instead of saying “I am psychotic,” say “I have bipolar disorder,” say “I have schizophrenia,” rather than branding yourself as “a schizophrenic.”
If you seek to know the truth about mental wellbeing, you can foster mental health knowledge within your influence areas.
Educate People and Spread Awareness
Individuals with mental illness live next door, teach our children, neighbors, friends, and colleagues. If we show support and acceptance to these people, we will help eliminate one of their practical disease management obstacles.
Within your communities, work to ensure that these people have the same freedoms and resources as anyone else. Also, small stuff, like making people see them or you as a person who isn’t a disease, makes the most difference.
Treat Mental Health Patients with Respect
The stigma attached prevents people from coping with their mental health from finding advice and support. Will power can be a significant force in inspiring a person to seek help with their illness, but a person cannot quickly get out of a good mental health condition, no matter how much he or she may want to do!
The American Psychological Association states that only 25% of adults with mental illness symptoms believe that people will be caring and sympathetic.
It is estimated that in 2017, 970 million people worldwide suffered from a psychiatric or drug use disorder. The highest number of people had an anxiety disorder, measured at around 4 percent of the population.
Role of Mental Health Professionals in Curbing the Stigma
Many of us have become desensitized to today’s actual mental health challenges due in part to the haphazard use of its terminology by entertainment society. But it is our collective responsibility to pause and consider steps that we can all take to address modern mental health needs, even those of us who are not therapists.
However, unless researchers and governments begin to conceptualize and combat ‘mental health stigma’ in more oriented, realistic ways, there would be no way to tell which groups are most or least benefiting from existing policies.
Greatest Barrier in Reducing Stigma
To help our friends, neighbors, and community members receive the mental healthcare they need, we must first become aware of the roadblocks we may inadvertently throw in their way.
However, such a lack of clarification can unintentionally help foster discrimination in this stigmatization process by incentivizing the prejudice to remain an ambiguous and gritty problem. In such a scenario, the society will continue to be missed entirely by the most successful approaches. The basic concepts of when and how measures and strategies to minimize mental health stigma will remain unsolved. Alternatively, identifying and analyzing such stigma aims to benefit many among us affected by mental illness somewhere in our lives.
Policymakers and healthcare professionals have to work to ensure that our teenagers and young adults recognize the true meaning of the definition of mental wellbeing and do not hesitate to seek the support they must need. They should also accept new networks and communication methods to make accessing mental health services affordable, convenient, and connected in the best possible way for both young and old alike.
Mental disorder is not anything to be ashamed of, covered up, or excused for. The only difference between a state of mental health and a medical condition is stigma!
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