A stigma can be like a blemish, negative attitudes, a strain, or any mark. People suffering from mental illness or any other disability usually face stigma and they are considered less important than normal people. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health disorders is very common. Mental health stigma leads people to be discriminated from others, bullied by others and usually become a victim of violence.
Mental health illness has been stigmatized for a long time in our societies worldwide. There is a wide range of ideologies around the etiology of mental illness from being considered the devil mark to being referred to as a moral punishment. Ultimately, in a scientific sense, there is no treatment for it, and has been inhumane and brutal historically.
In Neolithic times, such people undergone through trephining process (chipping a hole in that person’s skull reveals the evil spirits. But, now the treatments of psychology and psychiatry are quite smart, still have a long way to go.
Stigma has emerged fear among people and more importantly, the lack of understanding. However, such circumstances will decline soon as the scientist continues to find treatments of mental health illness.
Why does stigma exist?
Stigma exists because most people have negative beliefs and attitudes towards mental illness and the majority of them are unaware of mental health issues. Even, professionals dealing in mental health units have negative beliefs towards such people whom they care for.
Besides, media plays an important role in strengthening the stigma by:
● Depicting flawed stereotypes about people suffering from mental health illness.
● Using humiliating and aggressive language
● Overstate the situations through unjustified references to mental illness.
For example, if the media relate mental illness with violence, that encourages the misconception that all people with mental health illness are savage. Research shows the fact that such people with mental health illnesses are anticipated to be victims rather than criminals of violence.
Mental health stigma in the faith (for Christians)
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI), around 18.5% of the people in the USA experience mental health illness in a given year. The majority of them felt emotional distress and turned to their faith or churches for emotional guidance. In many Christian churches, sadly, there is still a stigma linked to mental illness. The inaccurate expectations and misguided attitudes often caused believers to feel unsupported, blamed, and shamed. According to research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it was found out that
● Around 4 percent of adults in the United States experience serious mental health stigma that substantially limits their life activities.
● Approximately 18% of the adults in the USA have experienced mental health issues due to stigma such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress disorders, and specific phobias.
● Some people also undergo depression, suicides, and schizophrenia that many Christians find it hard to talk about.
In the United States, some distinguished that cultural and religious beliefs discourage people from seeking help for depression and other mental health illnesses. Christ-centered people tolerate that all in silence. Therefore, researchers and mental health providers should get in touch with the faith-based organization to encourage people to seek treatment. Besides they should also address the stigma linked with mental health illness.
How does stigma affect people with mental health?
The effects of mental health stigma are very devastating and serious. They are treated differently and are prohibited from many things that normal people take for granted. Stigmatized people are subjected to experience
● Unwillingness to search for treatment
● Delayed treatment can cause mortality and mobility.
● Isolation, avoidance, and social rejection.
● Adverse psychological well being.
● Poor understanding among family and friends.
● Increased socioeconomic burden
● Poor quality of life
● Feelings of self-doubt and shame
Among stigmatized people, higher levels of depression and cortisol are usually found. Such people also suffer from disgusting feelings.
Understanding someone undergoing mental health stigma is important to help to reduce it. Everyone needs to understand that such people also have the same right to live as others. You can actively speak out against inaccurate stereotyping when such conversations come up in the media. When describing yourself or others, be mindful of your exact words and be kind to people suffering from mental health stigma. Avoid using hurtful words such as psycho, loopy, crazy to describe, or call others.
How to combat mental health stigma?
There are different methods to combat mental health stigma.
Remember that many people suffer from mental health stigma. You should remember that you are not alone if you have a mental illness. One out of five people in the United States experience mental health stigma. This will give you some motivation to fight with others for yourself.
Don’t take it personally
Mostly, discrimination comes from such people who are unaware of mental health illness and are unable to understand. Therefore, consider that it is their problem, rather than consider it as your problem.
Maintain your connection with others to seek support, no matter what you do. Several organizations offer supportive and educational resources to help people and families to get rid of mental health illnesses. National Alliance on Mental health Illness ( ANMI) is one of the organizations that work for people suffering from mental health illness. You can als seek help from
● Mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, counselors, or psychologists.
● Local health care centers.
● Local mental health community centers.
To have a better quality of life, get treatment as soon as possible to reduce the symptoms.
You should take some responsibility to speak out about the realities of mental health illnesses and educate people around you. Besides, try to actively speak out against stigma and make the people
realize that they need to stop it. Educate your family members and friends who usually comment on someone with a mental illness. Mental health illness can be eventually eliminated with proper awareness and greater education.