Stigma and Mental Health Today

Q: Do you believe there is a stigma associated with mental illness today?

I believe there is a stigma associated with mental illness today. Public stigma refers to the negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate people to fear and avoid mentally ill individuals. As Lieberman (2016) explains, most people understand the benefits of public knowledge about physical disease.

The same is not true about mental illnesses. Those suffering from mental disorders rarely get the required social support because of the community’s lack of social support. To date, only an insignificant percentage of mentally ill people seek psychiatric help because of fear of disclosing a diagnosis that involves stigma associated with mental illness. (Mannarini & Boffo, 2014).

A study on US Marines revealed that US Marines believed that seeking psychiatric services would cause people to perceive them as weak, and 64% of the study participants believed their unit leaders would treat them differently if they sought psychiatric services (Brouwers, 2020, p. 5).

Stigma has negative consequences because it robs the mentally ill, the opportunities that define a quality life, such as good jobs, safe housing, and affiliation with different groups of people (Corrigan & Watson, 2002). Through awareness, developing means of detecting mental illnesses early, and campaigning for more government initiatives towards mental illness programs, it is possible to remove this barrier that forces mentally ill individuals to suffer in silence and cause harm to themselves and others. Until the time when it becomes honorable to confess about mental illness and be concerned about our friends when they seem to be troubled by thoughts, then the stigma will still be everyone’s biggest challenge.

References

Brouwers, E. P. (2020). Social stigma is an underestimated contributing factor to unemployment in people with mental illness or mental health issues: Position paper and future directions. BMC Psychology8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-020-00399-0

Corrigan, P. W., & Watson, A. C. (2002). Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)1(1), 16–20.

Lieberman, J. (2016). Imagine There Was No Stigma to Mental Illness [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrbTbB9tTtA Mannarini, S., & Boffo, M. (2014). Anxiety, bulimia, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, and schizophrenia: What do you think about their aetiology, dangerousness, social distance, and treatment? A latent class analysis approach. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology50(1), 27-37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-014-0925-x