A look at the negative stigma of mental health

Abstract Mental health stigma operates in society, is internalized by individuals, and is attributed by health professionals. This ethics-laden issue acts as a barrier to individuals who may seek or engage in treatment services. The dimensions, theory, and epistemology of mental health stigma have several implications for the social work profession.

A look at the negative stigma of mental health

Navy Yard, and now Fort Hood — all three immediately bring to mind the memory of innocent bystanders besieged by someone with a gun and a mental illness. These stories not only feed the media frenzy for sensational news, they usually focus on the person with the mental illness who is invariably painted as someone to be feared and locked away, without looking at the real cost to both the victims and perpetrators of these crimes.

The end result is that this graphic and recurring barrage of information regarding violent incidents involving people with a mental illness has conditioned the public to associate mental illness with violence.

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The reality is that a vast majority of crimes involving bodily harm or loss of life is perpetrated by individuals without any history or current signs of mental illness. People with mental illnesses have been stigmatized for hundreds of years based on negative and oftentimes unfair beliefs about mental illnesses that sometimes have no bearing on the true nature of these illnesses.

This unfortunate state of affairs has led to some people not talking about mental health problems and suffering in silence or waiting until the illness has progressed too far.

Others have become estranged from family members and loved ones because they fear they might be misunderstood, judged, and alienated. Others still, have endured discrimination in the workplace or school due to lack of knowledge about their rights to equal treatment under the law.

Amidst all this, it is important to separate the facts about mental illnesses from the stereotypes which serve to promote stigma and discrimination against individuals with these illnesses.

Photo courtesy Len Matthews via Flickr. Anyone can develop a mental illness in their lifetime. Also, having a mental illness does not mean a person can never have a fulfilling life — recovery from mental illness is possible and people can and do recover!

Mental Health Stigma: Society, Individuals, and the Profession

In addition, people with mental illnesses can be productive members of the communities in which they live. We can all play a role in combating stigma in mental health by sharing information about what works, supporting research into the treatment and cure of mental illnesses, and promoting a culture of inclusion in our personal and professional lives.

Avoid labeling people with words like "crazy," "wacko," "loony," or by their diagnoses. For example, instead of saying someone is a "schizophrenic" say "a person with schizophrenia. Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity, as you would anybody else. Respect the rights of people with mental illnesses and don't discriminate against them especially when it comes to housing, employment, or education.

Like other people with disabilities, people with mental health needs are protected under Federal and State laws.

A look at the negative stigma of mental health

References Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Myths and Facts about Mental Illness.Stigma occurs as a result of stereotypes and negative perceptions and is often associated with mental health conditions.

Stigma can occur both externally and internally (self-stigma), and is a major barrier that may prevent an individual from seeking help for what is often a very treatable condition. Mental health stigma is of great interest to me personally.

I have a diagnosis and work as a mental health professional in a regional city in Queensland. Seriously, I believe that we should feel sympathetic to those people who hold a stigma against people with a mental health diagnosis.

Public stigma is the reaction that the general population has to people with mental illness. Self-stigma is the prejudice which people with mental illness turn against themselves.

Both public and self-stigma may be understood in terms of three components: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Nov 24,  · There is a negative stigma surrounding mental health. This negative view surrounding people seeking help, is destructive, unproductive, and taking lives.

. There is so much stigma surround the phrase ‘attention seeking’ when it comes to mental illness. People use it in a negative way when in reality there is no negative meaning behind it.

A review of studies on the public stigma of mental illness shows that it is still widespread, even as the public has become more aware of the nature of different conditions. While the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a condition and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental health conditions.

Stigma as a Barrier to Mental Health Care – Association for Psychological Science