The stigma around mental health issues is still prevalent
There has been a growing number of people experiencing mental health issues, yet the stigma around mental illness, unfortunately, remains the same. More than half of people with mental illness don’t seek help for their issues, and this is oftentimes due to the fear of being treated or viewed differently. People with mental illness are often marginalized and discriminated against due to misinformation and stereotypes. This can happen due to media representations of people with mental illness. Often times those with mental illness are portrayed as negative or crazy. For example, people with depression are often seen as lazy and those with substance abuse issues are often told it’s “their choice.” These stereotypes can cause harm because not only are the characterizations not valid, but they also cause pain and prevent people from getting the help they need.
There are different types of stigmas
Public stigma is the negative and discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness. Self-stigma refers to internalized shame that people have about their condition. Institutional stigma relates to policies regarding those with mental illness, such as lower funding or lack of mental health services compared to other health care. Regardless of which kind of stigma, the effects are negative. Some issues that stigma can cause include shame, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and internalizing negative beliefs. It can also cause social isolation, reduced likelihood of staying with treatment, and difficulties with social relationships.
Some ways to combat mental illness stigma include:
· Talking openly about mental health
· Educating yourself and others about mental health
· Being conscious of the language you use when speaking about mental illness
· Showing compassion for those with mental illness
· Normalizing mental health treatment as any other health treatment
Research also shows that knowing someone with mental illness is one of the best ways to reduce stigma. Sharing stories and speaking out can have a positive impact. Learning to accept your condition and actively taking steps to treat it can also make a big difference. If you or a loved one needs help with mental illness or substance abuse, don’t be afraid to reach out and seek help.