October Editorials: The Stigma around Mental Health
It is no secret that even in this day and age, there is a great deal of stigma around mental health that still remains. Anyone who who has had experiences with mental illnesses, personally or professionally, can tell you that despite the advances in psychology and psychiatry, the stigma around mental health is still very prominent.
The stigma associated with mental illness can be divided into two types:
1) Social stigma, which involves the prejudiced attitudes that others have around mental
2) Self-perceived stigma, which involves an internalised stigma that the person with the
mental illness suffers from.
People with mental health problems say that the stigma attached to mental health and the
discrimination they face can make their recovery much harder.
Mental illness is very common, affecting thousands of people around the world, around one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.
Nearly nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma and discrimination have a negative effect on their lives. This is because society in general has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Many people believe that people with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, when in fact they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves than harming other people.
Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone's mental health problems, and delay their getting help and treatment. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental illnesses.
Most people who live with mental illness have, at some point, been blamed for their condition and have even been called names. Their symptoms have been referred to as “a phase”, something they can control “if they only tried” and often, their symptoms are dismissed as being fake.
Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.
So the question on how to fight this stigma arises, and here are the following ways each of us can help make a change.
1) Talk Openly About Mental Health
2) Educate Yourself and Others
3) Be Conscious of Language- avoid using mental health conditions like adjectives
4) Encourage Equality between Physical and Mental Illnesses
5) Show Compassion For Those With Mental Illnesses
6) Be Honest About Treatment
No matter how you contribute to the mental health movement, you can make a difference simply by knowing that mental illness is not anyone’s fault and that everyone is fighting their own battle.
Others' judgments almost always stem from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts and just by simply spreading awareness, you can help numerous undergoing such stigma.
- Mehweesh Tahir