STIGMA

In today’s day and age, there is a perceived social stigma surrounding mental health. The fear of speaking out stems from mental health not being held in the same regard as physical health. Contrary to physical injuries like cuts and bruises, signs of mental struggles are not visible, making the problem easily glossed over as something temporary and trivial. In today’s day and age, there is a perceived social stigma surrounding mental health. The fear of speaking out stems from mental health not being held in the same regard as physical health. Contrary to physical injuries like cuts and bruises, signs of mental struggles are not visible, making the problem easily glossed over as something temporary and trivial. Mental health stigma is a negative and biased opinion towards someone because of their condition, often leading to discrimination

 

STATISTICS

  • 16.5% of people with depression worldwide seek help, with stigma being the primary reason for this low figure (Brainsway)

  • 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems believe that stigma and descrimination is taking a negative toll on their life (Mental Health Foundation)

  • Around half of American workers are concerned about discussing mental health, while a third worry about the consequences of seeking help (American Psychiatry Association) 

 

WHY DOES STIGMA EXIST

The media contributes to this lack of understanding by portraying certain mental health disorders in a negative light. One way this is done is through films characterizing those with conditions like schizophrenia as being maniacal killers. By spreading the false notion that everyone with schizophrenia, or any other disorder for that matter, is violent and uncontrollable, these individuals usually are socially ostracized and sometimes turn towards committing suicide. In fact, rather than being the perpetrators, those with disorders tend to be victims of violence.

 

CONSEQUENCES

  • Greater vulnerability to discrimination and violence

  • Lowered self-esteem

  • Feelings of embarrassment and shame

  • Development of addictions (drugs and alcohol) 

  • Thoughts of suicide

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH STIGMA

  • Make sure to receive treatment or seek help even though you may feel pressured not to

  • You are not your illness, you are more than that. Instead of labeling yourself as being “bipolar” try saying “I have bipolar disorder”.

  • Know that you are not alone. Mental illness is common, so don’t believe having it makes you a weaker individual. 

  • Share your story. The more people you share your experiences with, the less awkward the matter becomes.