STIGMA ON MENTAL HEALTH IS ONE OF THE MOST PERVASIVE SOCIAL PROBLEMS EVEN IN TODAY’S MODERN SOCIETYApril 17, 2019 Off All,
Outline Thesis: Stigma on mental health is one of the most pervasive social problems even in today’s modern society. Stigmatizing behaviors are perhaps greater seen against patients with mental illnesses than on other patients with physical conditions. Prejudice and stereotyping severely impair a patient’s ability to live a full and productive life. The public must recognize and address several misconceptions that lead to these behaviors. Measures must also be put in place to reduce such social stigma. Mental health patients suffer from stigma much more than patients of other physical disorders Stigmatization gravely affects a mental health patient’s quality of life. Stigmatizing behavior stems from misconceptions and misunderstandings on mental illness. There are measures that can be done individually and with society so as to reduce prejudice and stigma against people with mental health disorders. Many of us would never even imagine or envision ourselves making fun of someone with cancer, heart disease or other serious conditions. It’s cold, cruel, and inhumane. However, negative treatment and attitudes toward people with mental health conditions are commonplace, even in today’s modern society. This dissonance reflects the inadequate education and false beliefs that the larger society had with regards to mental illness and mental health in general.
The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter of the world’s population is affected by a mental or behavioral disorder at one point in their lifetimes (Ahmedani 1). That means almost every day, we brush up on people who are mentally ill in one way or another. How we react to these encounters affect how individuals with mental health disorders form their self-concept and participate in treatment. The World Health Organization has suggested that stigma is one of the largest barriers to seeking treatment. Stigma can result in fewer opportunities at work, school, or social involvement. It can cause greater emotional distress. At worst, it can lead to bullying and physical aggression or harm. How we deal with individuals who suffer from mental illness can almost literally make or break them. So where are all these prejudices and stereotypes on mentally ill people coming from? Results of multiple independent factor surveys (Corrigan & Watson 17) reveal that people generally have three misconceptions about mental disorders that result in accompanying stigmatizing attitudes. First, many people believe mental health patients are dangerous and therefore should be feared and kept out of communities. Second, people with mental illness have no capacity to be responsible and decisions about their lives should be left to others like family members or caregivers. And third, persons with mental disability are childlike and need to be treated and cared for like a child. In addition, developing mental illness would almost always be attributed to drug addiction, criminality, or other factors by an uninformed public. However, it is also important to note that prejudice does not just come from lay people; many trained professionals in the medical profession also hold prejudicial feelings toward mental health patients, perhaps because mental health education is at the lower level of the priority spectrum in medical training (Wallace 1). It is encouraging, however, that several measures are now being implemented by public institutions, the academe, and organizations to help in efforts to reduce stigmatization of mental illness. Among these steps are awareness raising dialogues, literacy programs, advocacy, protests, and social contact (Stuart 6). These efforts may be amplified to reach broader audiences through mass media channels such as television, internet, and social media. More needs to be done however, as efforts to improve mental health literacy does not necessarily guarantee a greater social tolerance to mentally ill patients. Collaborative work between government and non-government entities should be bolstered, especially in low-income countries where lack of qualified personnel, adequate research facilities, and communication channels severely hamper the advancement of such approaches. Also, age-appropriate mental health education must be integrated into academic curriculums as early as possible into a child’s education, as stigmatizing behavior is established over time.