Understanding the Stigmas Associated with Mental Illness
In the USA, 1 out of 5 adults suffers from mental illnesses.
However, 60% of these adults don't get the help they need because they are afraid of being stigmatized. Stigmas associated with mental illness occur when someone discriminates against people because of their mental illnesses. Stigmas happen when people see the person as the ‘illness’ and not as an ‘individual.’ For instance, they label a person ‘crazy’ instead of realizing that he suffers from severe depression.
What are the most common stigmas of mental illness?
There are five predominant types of stigmas associated with mental illness.
1. Public Stigma - This happens due to pervasive stereotypes that lead the public to fear, avoid or reject people due to their mental illness.
2. Self-Stigma- When people suffering from mental illness self-sabotage their progress by expecting to fail, it is called self-stigma.
3. Perceived Stigma- It is a product of public stigma that happens when someone internalizes the fears and pressure they feel from the society.
4. Stigma by Association- When people discriminate against people (and families) of someone with a mental illness, it is called stigma by association.
5. Structural Stigma- When societal and cultural practices disfavor or discriminate against stigmatized people by not offering them the opportunities or resources they need.
Understanding the impact of the stigma associated with mental illness
Stigmas are one of the most significant barriers that stop people from reaching out for help. As a result, people are reluctant to consult a mental health service provider or start a treatment plan.
As evident from their common types, stigmas work on different levels. They could come from a community's lack of support and empathy towards families of people with mental illnesses. Such instances can make it difficult for them to support and help their loved ones.
At the same time, stigmas can result in self-loathing and self-pity as people suppress the fears and repulsions they face. These negative behaviors rob people of the chance to make the most out of the opportunities available for them.
Fighting the stigma of mental illness
The stigmas are deep-rooted in personal, societal, and structural belief systems. That's why fighting them is a big challenge. However, mental health service providers and practitioners should collaborate with community groups to address the stigmas and discourage labeling people with mental disorders.
Dealing with a Mental Illness?
In Baltimore, Dynamic Healthcare partners with schools, recreational centers, and sports teams to offer pro-bono programs for students. We offer mentor programs for students and their families to educate and engage them. Our goal is to raise awareness and discourage and defeat the stigmas associated with mental illness.
Learn more about our community initiatives here.