Why There is Stigma About Mental Illness and How Can it be Broken?

in mentalillness •  2 years ago  (edited)

It is a true fact that about one in every four Americans has a diagnosed mental disorder and this clearly highlights the fact that anyone can be affected by mental illness, irrespective of whether you are a celebrity, an entrepreneur or a common man. Even then, why people with mental illness have to face discrimination in every sphere of life? Let us explore the reasons and look at few steps which can be taken to break this stigma.

Why people with mental illness are treated differently?

It is commonly seen that people suffering from mental illness are not treated just as other normal people. Apart from being marginalized, they also face violation of different human rights in communities they live as well as in treatment facilities.

Many times people suffering from mental disorders (and due to behavioral symptoms of such disorders) are sent to jail. Will anyone think of doing the same to someone who is suffering from cancer? Both, cancer and mental disorder are illnesses but are treated quite differently.

Stigma about Mental Illness

Due to presence of misconceptions related to mental illness, people with mental disorders have to face prejudice, discrimination as well as stereotypes. As such, people suffering from mental illness get robbed of the opportunity to live a quality life.

Additionally, those with mental illness have to face stigmatizing attitudes where it is believed that:

  • People having mental disorders are generally homicidal maniacs and as such, are to be feared and kept out from communities.
  • Such people have very child like perceptions.
  • Mental disorder makes such people irresponsible which is why their life decisions must be taken by others.

What steps can be taken for removing this public stigma about mental illness?

There are different approaches which can help in removing public stigma related to mental illness. Let us go through the details here.

  • Education: If people participate in education programs about mental disorders then it can help in improving attitude they have about this mental health problem. For example, there can be education programs for college undergraduates as well as community residents to improve knowledge they have about mental illnesses.
  • Personal Contact: Another way to remove or lower public stigma about mental disorders is to improve contact common people have with mentally ill people who have proved to be good neighbors or are doing respectable jobs. Such inter-personal contact can be further improved when people get to interact with mentally ill people as peers on regular basis.

Mental Illness and Success in Life

It does not mean that a person cannot be successful if he or she is suffering from mental illness. There is a long list of people who have achieved success in life despite the fact that they were suffering from some type of mental illness. Let us go through details of some such very successful people.

  • Catherine Zeta Jones: Bipolar II disorder was not able to hold this Academy award winner from achieving success in life. Moreover, Catherine was bold enough to disclose this in public so that it encourages others to come forward and seek help about condition they have instead of suffering silently.
  • Jessie Close: At the very late age of 47, Jessie (sister of well-known actress, Glenn Close and an upcoming author) was diagnosed to be having Bipolar I disorder. After the diagnosis she with her brother decided to start a foundation which will be working to break the stigma as well as discrimination surrounding mental illness.
  • Carrie Fisher: A well acclaimed actress, Carrie had bipolar disorder and she did not let that stop her from doing what she wanted to. She also advised others suffering from some type of mental illness to do everything they can to achieve their dreams without feeling shy or ashamed about their illness.
  • To conclude, we can say that mental illness is something which requires medical attention and people can achieve their goals as well as become successful even when suffering from a mental illness. Moreover, everyone will have to work collectively to break the stigma people have about mental disorders.

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A little sidepath but still..
while watching a lot of those documentary series about prisons, I struck me how many people are the there with mental ilnesses and not really any form of treatment. But if you say now that 1 in every 4 has issues, then it is not so hard to believe anymore indeed!