What If We Were To De-Stigmatize Mental Illness?
I’m sure we have all known someone who suffers from some sort of mental illness all along the spectrum, from mild anxiety to full on schizophrenia. And often we may have some preconceived and very inaccurate views of what it means to have a mental illness. Because of these biases against people who are wired differently than perhaps you and I are, there is a lot of misinformation, misunderstanding and discrimination leveled against these members of society causing them to be stigmatized by their condition.
What are the implications?
- there may be an unwillingness to seek treatment that would help stabilize the condition
- friends and family may be afraid of the person and avoid contact
- housing and employment may be difficult to secure
- there may be bullying and harassment
- there may be a lack of treatment options or health insurance coverage for treatment
- there may be a belief that it is a lifelong, very limiting condition
What are the solutions?
- the patient should not allow themselves to become isolated but rather seek support from those they trust
- seek treatment even though it may be uncomfortable because there may be a solution to reduce or even eliminate symptoms of the illness
- don’t be your own worst enemy by stigmatizing yourself, but rather seek information, professional help and a support program with people who understand the condition
- don’t identify with the illness by calling yourself the illness, but rather refer to it as a condition you have, as in “I have schizophrenia”, not “I am schizophrenic”.
- become an advocate for yourself and others who have a mental illness by speaking out to educate others and against bullying and stigmatizing those who can’t speak for themselves
The shame attached to the conditions we deem to be “mental illness” is the reason so many suffer in silence and don’t seek help. Many of our homeless population suffer with mental illness. Drug addiction often stems from the attempt to self-medicate to stop the racing thoughts, fear, paranoia and other symptoms people experience.
Hi, Karen. This makes me sad as I see an increased number of individuals with mental illness here in our country, abandoned and ignored. I believe that some of them started just fine but with life's challenges, the condition evolved and persisted. Some of them, according to others, are born with the condition.
– Bing of Bing Writes Content
The solutions you enumerated are doable but I think, they cannot do it alone. There has to be someone who will guide them and tell them these things.
I always tell others this question – What if you are the one with that condition, wouldn't you want help? This self-check question often results to aggressive answers and denial but I believe telling them this will make them think before discriminating people with mental illness.
You are so right Bing. Thank you for commenting. This is an awful problem in our country and not enough is being done to help care for people who are afflicted. So much of the issue is the shame attached to it for the person who has it and the family members who feel shame. It should not be something you need to be ashamed of. It's an illness just like any other.
I couldn't agree more. The stigma makes each situation worse.
Depression and anxiety seems to be an epidemic these days. I just had a conversation with a young man today that was refreshing. He said "everyone needs counseling", so maybe the next generation won't have the stigma? Not sure. But you are so right Karen, we all need to look out for one another, and not be afraid to talk about what hurts.
I agree and I think it's due to many factors. Everyone could do better with a little mental health support. I would love to see treatment more normalized so people don't have to be afraid to seek help.
Thanks for writing about this! It's important to know where the gaps are before we can fill them. I hope a lot of people read this and take action.
I hope people start allowing mental illness to be out in the open where it can be taken care of properly. Thanks for your comment Elisa.