Mental illness affects 450 million people worldwide. These people are confronted not just with the burden of dealing with the symptoms but also with the stigma attached to their illness. About nine out of ten people with mental health problems say that stigma has affected them negatively. Published by Hypnosis in London on 10 October 2016, written by Malminder Gill.
Mental health stigma can be divided into two different types: the social stigma and the perceived or self-stigma.
Social or public stigma on mental illness is common. The prejudice and the discriminating behavior towards individuals with mental health problems doesn’t just happen to the general public but also happen to professionals including those dealing with mental health.
The negative perception towards mental health problems can also be seen in different forms of media both in film and print where people with mental illnesses are portrayed as homicidal, have a weak character, are to be blamed for for their condition, and to be feared at.
Perceived or self-stigma often happen as a result of social stigma. The stigmatizing ideas from the society can be internalized by those with mental illnesses, leading them to believe that they are less valued because of their mental health problem.
Factors Causing Stigma
There are different factors that lead to social stigma towards mental health illness. One of these is history where people with mental problems are used to be mistreated and excluded in the society.
A person’s belief towards mental problems can also affect the way he/she treats people with mental disorders. In the past, mental illnesses are often believed to be caused by demonic or spirit possession. This belief led people to discriminate or fear those with mental health problems. A belief that mental illness is controllable leads people to think that those with mental health problems are to be blamed for for their condition and may respond to them in a hostile way.
Consequences of Stigma on Mental Health Problems
The stigma associated with mental health problems lead to feelings of shame, hopelessness, blame, and distress. Several studies have also shown that public stigma and discrimination can lead to reluctance in seeking help and social avoidance. The discriminating ideas toward mental illness can sometimes lead the public to avoid interacting with those with psychiatric disorders. In some cases, avoiding working or having a family with them.
Among groups with disability, it is those with mental illnesses that are least likely to get a job, be in a long-term relationship, socialize with others, and get a decent housing. Hence, the stigma and discrimination towards their illness can worsen their condition.
What to Do About It
Dealing with the stigma and prejudice attached to mental health problems may not be easy but it’s doable. Here are some tips on how to cope with mental illness stigma:
Getting educated is one of the best ways to start overcoming the stigma on mental illness. Having that knowledge on mental health problem can help one see the difference between the myths and the facts surrounding it.
The stigma and the discrimination attached to mental illness may make it hard to seek treatment but it’s through seeking treatment that one can identify what’s wrong and can improve his/her condition. It is through seeking treatment that a person with mental illness can improve his/her quality of life.
Social isolation is one of the serious consequences of social stigma. It can worsen one’s condition as it destroys the person’s self-confidence and perception over one’s self. This is why it’s good too to reach out or join support groups.
These groups are comprised of individuals who understand what a person with mental illness goes through and hence, create an accepting environment where people can freely express themselves and help each other too.
Dealing with the social stigma is not easy. This is why it helps to have someone you can trust and express your fears and doubts.
Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that is beneficial for nearly all forms of fear including the fear of being judged, a common fear shared by those with mental health problems.