• Shirleen P., RN

Mental health stigma: why it should go away...




Mental health stigma: why it should go away...



It’s not easy dealing with mental health. You can try doing your best, try to be positive, but you might still be judged by other people. People will probably never know how it might hurt you or a loved one.  Maybe you or a loved one feels sad, hopeless, worried and spends less time with other people.  Nobody knows you are now suffering from a mental health stigma.  Stigma happens when a person is labeled by society with negative stereotypes, making them feel they are undesirable and tainted. 




Stigma has different parts:


A Lack of Knowledge (Ignorance)

Most people don’t have enough information about health stigma. Maybe they don’t understand what mental health really means.  Most people need accurate and current mental health information to understand it.  What you see on TV or online isn’t the true picture of mental illness – it’s more complicated than that.


Negative Attitudes (Prejudice)

There are negative views or attitudes people have about mental health stigma. Maybe they think there is no treatment for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or another mental health problem.  Since they don’t have the right information, they will create these negative views about people suffering from mental health issues.


Discrimination

Sometimes, people discriminate and criticize people suffering from mental health conditions. Instead of cheering them up, some people say negative comments that can makes them feel sad, anxious or worthless. They don’t understand mental healthDealing with discrimination from people’s words and actions can make it worse.  Some people don’t know or understand consequence of discrimination and how it can hurt someone.




Types of Stigma: Social Stigma and Self-Stigma



Social Stigma


Social stigma is also known as public stigma can be negative about people suffering from mental health issues.  This stigma is commonly linked with discrimination and makes people suffering from this feel different and unacceptable. This can also lead to social isolation so people don’t want to go out alone or be around other people.


Self-stigma


When a person adopts and accepts negative stereotypes, it’s called self-stigma. This stigma can cause fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, embarrassment, self-isolation among other symptoms.  Self-stigma can make life and mental health problems worse.



Consequences of Stigma


About 1 in every 4 people has a mental health condition but maybe it’s not diagnosed yet. Mental health stigma is more common than some other severe health conditions like arthritis, heart or hormone problems. Some consequences of mental health stigma are isolation, sadness, worry, less support from family and friends and possibility thoughts of suicide.  Many people with mental health issues can neglect themselves such as not showering often, combing hair, checking mail or doing daily chores.


It’s really important to start taking action to prevent worse problems associated with stigma.  To avoid this, you can start helping yourself or someone else by building a good support system.  Reach out to family, friends and maybe teachers or co-workers that you can trust and will help. There are ways to improve mental health stigma like anti-discrimination legislation and policy, educating people, mental health programs, and social support.  These actions can help build a nicer world away from mental health stigma.



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