THE IMPACT OF STIGMA ON PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

Stigma is when someone sees an individual or group in a negative way because of a particular characteristic or attribute. Stigma leads to discrimination. When someone treats you in a negative way because of your mental illness, this is discrimination. Approximately 75% of individuals with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma.


TYPES OF STIGMA

Self-stigma occurs when a person internalises negative stereotypes. This causes low self-esteem and low self-efficacy. For example: An individual isolates from society and reinforce feelings of exclusion and social withdrawal.

Social stigma, also called the public stigma, refers to negative stereotypes and prejudices that result in discrimination against people with mental health conditions. For example: An individual with a mental health problem may find that others, including friends and colleagues, avoid them.

Stigma association occurs when the effects of stigma are extended to someone linked to a person with mental health difficulties. This type of stigma is also known as courtesy stigma and associative stigma.

Perceived stigma leads to an internalized shame about having a mental illness. It has been found in a long-term study that this sort of internalized stigma leads to poorer treatment outcomes.

EFFECTS OF STIGMA

  • Fear and misunderstanding can lead to prejudice against people with mental illness
  • A feeling of shame, hopelessness and isolation
  • It can lead to violence, harassment and bullying
  • Reluctance to ask for help or get treatment
  • Lack of understanding by friends, family, co-worker or others
  • Fewer opportunities for employment or social interaction
  • Prevents people from seeking health care immediately
  • Discourage them from adopting healthy behaviour
  • The belief that you won’t be able to achieve your goals and challenges or overcome your illness


HOW TO COPE WITH STIGMA?

  • Educate yourself and others: Share your story and struggles with mental illness, educate others about mental health and how we need to overcome stigma.
  • Be conscious of your language: Choose your words carefully. Don’t use derogatory language.
  • Be aware of your own attitude and behaviour: We all grow up with some judgmental attitudes, but we can change the way we think. View people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes.
  • Realize that you aren’t your condition: Illness doesn’t define us. Just like someone with cancer is still the same person before the diagnosis, so is someone with a mental health condition. Avoid using terms like calling someone or yourself as anorexic, bulimic, bipolar or schizophrenic. Instead, it is more accurate to say that an individual is suffering from anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  • Accept and seek help: Try not to let the fear of being labelled with a mental illness stop you from getting help. Reach out to help who you can trust. It can be your friends, family, relatives or closed ones.
  • Support people: Show compassion to people who have mental health problems. Treat them with dignity and respect.
  • Get treatment: You may be reluctant to admit you need treatment. Don’t let the fear of being labelled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by identifying what’s wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life.



“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”

Bill Clinton


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62 thoughts on “THE IMPACT OF STIGMA ON PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

  1. Nice post! I’ve worked as a therapist, by the way. I actually think your post is relevant to the spread of COVID19. Many people feel as though wearing a mask “signals” that there is “something wrong with them” — I think people also think, “I can’t possibly be making others sick — I don’t even feel sick myself!” I feel it a little bit. It’s like…if I avoid people because they might be asymptotic spreaders, it “feels” a bit like I am rejecting *them* — or at least that they will take it take way. And, conversely, I do think people may feel reluctant to approach people who are in a wheelchair, missing limbs, etc. as well as psychiatric patients because they may “catch it.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is so good! In India, mental illnesses is not taken seriously at all. If a person is mentally unstable, either he/she is laughed at and told that there is no such thing like depression, or he/she is distanced away from the rest of society, maybe locked up.
    I hope more people understand soon that depression and mental illnesses are not funny.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. An interesting blog, and well done too! Just as my opinion, negative judgement is impractical to eradicate as it is very deep rooted with day to day behaviour. So, it is obvious that we have to shut it out, or better, we have to reach out and gradually vibe with people. A reason do it? Simply because it is humane to help others who are caught up in situations you’ve survived. And my advice to cope with stigme is to begin a hobby or a life goal.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A nice sharing. When you stigmatize others, it means something is wrong with us also, Care ought to be exercised that we should assist others in alleviating the shortcomings but not point out just to lower others

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I must tell you- it’s a GREAT post and we need to discuss it. Mental illness is just like any physical illness.
    I completely agree with this quote-
    Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all”
    Bill Clinton

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yes I agree.. the amount of people I came across when I worked in mental health supporting those with a mental illness or condition… I supported Adults with learning difficulties… They ranged from Autism, Downs Syndrome, Asperger syndrome and other mental conditions.. People would even cross the road rather than pass us…
    We even had one proprietor of a public eating place we began to frequent.. Even though our group of adults with learning difficulties were well behaved and no trouble… because of how they looked.. ask us to move to a corner… those of us who were supporting them refused…. We did not go back to his establish again….
    While other eating places would greet us like old friends.. Yes people need educating on mental illness and give great thanks for their own faculties and mental well being..

    Many thanks for sharing…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. yes, there is so much stigma around mental illness, mainly because people can’t physically see it, so I agree that educating yourself and others is really importuning in trying to overcome that. It’s so damaging, as that stigma causes people suffering with their mental health to stay quiet and not talk about it, and everything goes downhill from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A very detailed approach and well-documented post on Mental illness. The approach is very professional and serves as a guide to everyone. One of the best I’ve read on mental illness. Do connect with Priyanka Joshi who regularly writes on mental issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Krishna, very very impressed by this write up. This subject is close to my heart. I believe in inclusiveness. Compassion can save a person, a hug, few words of kindness and a few minutes of your time can bring a person back to mainstream living. Hope this article reaches out to more people. It can educate them and change their attitudes towards persons with special needs.

    Like

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