- Stigma is defined as the association of negative character with a certain group of people leading to their devaluation in society through discrimination. It also can be defined as the marginalization and ostracism of individuals because they are mentally ill.
Three Components of Stigma.
- Stereotypes, usually inaccurate and socially motivated
- Prejudice, i.e. cognitive affective responses
- Three Components of Stigma:
Life for individuals who are struggling with a mental illness can be difficult. These persons are allowed to partake in their neighborhoods; however, they encounter many rejections and exclusions.
- As a result of stigma associated with someone with a mental illness they might encounter isolation and rejection.
- It might also prevent the individual from getting the necessary treatment because of fear, and thus promote disability.
- Some might experience lack of housing and employment.
- Inadequate health insurance and denial of loans can be a major obstacle to recovery.
- Other results may include loss of self esteem and difficulty making and keeping friends.
- Stigma can trigger a “blame game” (about whose fault it is) between family members, and can cause shame and secrecy.
Emotional Consequences of Stigma:
- Fear, sadness, isolation, shame and guilt.
- Stigma creates a vicious cycle of discrimination and social exclusion for those who suffer from a mental disorder.
- Stigma is the single most important barrier to quality of life for mental health clients and family members.
- It can also cause a major impediment to mental health improvement and development.
There are several factors that contribute to the stigmatization of the mentally ill.
- One of the most pervasive stigmas is that the mentally ill are dangerous; this conception is due to social norms and media, which label them as being aggressive, bizarre and volatile.
- These myths are further perpetuated by the sensationalism of newspapers and television when crimes are committed by former mental health patients.
- The lack of sensitivity towards the mentally ill can be seen in the casual usage of words such as loony, wacko, psycho, nut, lunatic, etc., which can distort the public perception.
- These types of repeated inaccurate stereotypes can become rooted in the minds of the general public. This can cause anger, hatred, discrimination, and the infliction of violence on the mentally ill patient
- One way to alleviate stigma is through education and by learning the facts about mental illness. This can help us talk openly and candidly about the illness, especially when comments are made that are untrue and misleading.
- Stereotyping, labeling, or blaming people with mental illness create a negative environment and can be demeaning and cruel.
- Avoid using words like crazy, wacko, loony, or nuts, or labeling someone by their diagnosis; e.g. schizophrenic.
- Treating people with mental illnesses like you would anybody else demonstrates respect for differences and dignity.
- Respecting the rights of all people, including those with mental illness fosters equality. People with mental illness have the same rights to housing, employment and education as everyone else and their rights are protected under law.
- There are times when we feel depressed, or get unreasonably angry or overexcited. We even have periods when we think that everything and everybody is out to get us and that we can’t cope. Therefore let us combat stigma by demonstrating patience, understanding, love and support for the mentally ill, as this can happen to anyone.
Fight Against Mental Health Stigma Now!