Stop judging and start healing! Let's end the Mental Stigma.
These days there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of mental well-being. However, people with mental health problems feel that the social stigma attached to mental health disorders and the discrimination attached to it worsens their situations and makes it harder for them to recover.
The stigma attached to mental health affects us two ways. There is public stigma and then there is self-stigma. Public stigma is the reaction that the overall population has to mental illness. Self-stigma is the prejudice most people with mental illness subject themselves with. There are three components that affect both public stigma and self-stigma: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. It is time we break free from the damaging impacts of these baseless pre-conceived notions and attitudes for the sake of the collective mental well-being of our societies.
Most of us won’t ask for help because we’re embarrassed or ashamed. Despite the topic of mental health being more visible than ever few people get the help they need. This can be credited to the stigma that is still a huge barrier that stops people from seeking help. We are usually quite empathetic to someone who has a physical illness like cancer, diabetes or even a broken leg. We are wholeheartedly there for them to offer support. This surely helps people who are suffering from these illnesses because having a strong support network can promote resilience and help people manage stress during difficult times.
But then when we come across someone struggling with mental illness, be it the mildest or the severest form, instead of offering support, we try to underplay it by offering them advice like, “Be positive,” or “It’s not half as bad as what other people are going through.” This kind of undermining of emotional pain can do more harm than good.
Mental health problems are common. They affect thousands of people and our friends, families, work colleagues, and society in general. Despite so many people being affected, there is a strong social stigma attached to mental ill-health, and people with mental health problems end up experiencing discrimination in all aspects of their lives. This stigma and discrimination that they experience from society, sadly also from families, friends, and employers impacts their lives negatively.
Our society, in general, has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. It’s a common belief that mentally ill patients are violent and dangerous, on the contrary they are more at risk of being attacked or harming themselves rather than harming other people. Stigma and discrimination can actually worsen someone's mental health problems and delay or impede their getting help and treatment, and their recovery. It can further result in related problems like social isolation, poor housing, unemployment, and poverty. So, stigma and discrimination can not only trap people in a cycle of illness but also in a series of social problems.
It is therefore important to question our judgments when it comes to mental health disorders. The best way to challenge these stereotypes is through firsthand contact with people with experience of mental health problems. The misconceptions about mental illness are widespread. There are many reasons why people develop mental health conditions and often it is due to multiple overlapping causes. Genetics, biology, lifestyle, traumatic life events, or environmental injustice can all play a role. No matter what the reason, mental health conditions are real health problems.
A lot of people try to hide their mental illness due to feelings of shame and do not receive the help they need. This can be detrimental because it ends up impacting their physical health as well.
Another problem is that the stigma of mental illness can make it difficult for those affected to maintain healthy relationships. Family and friends may distance themselves, leading to feelings of isolation. It’s a vicious cycle. Loneliness can elevate anxiety and depression and even trigger an inflammatory response that puts our immune system at risk.
The best way to beat stigma is to speak openly and honestly about mental health. Sharing personal experiences can bring in a powerful shift in attitudes. While the tide is slowly turning and many prominent figures are coming forward to have an open conversation about Mental health, we still have a long way to go.
Being open about mental illness and demonstrating that it can affect anyone, inspires others to open up about their issues and thereby coming forward in seeking the required help. Click to register for our - Create n Connect Program for Adults.