A stigma is a negative connotation towards a certain characteristic or trait. There are stigmas associated with mental health problems which cause some people to veer away from seeking help. Stigmas can lead to discrimination against people with a mental illness or the treatment of mental illnesses. There are two types of stigma when it comes to mental health, social stigma and self-stigma. Though many times it can be an unintentional stereotyping, people with mental illnesses could be viewed as different from others and dangerous.
Factors that Cause Stigma
Mental health problems have been around for centuries. Since treatment and proper labels were not discovered in the early years, people who suffered from mental illnesses were treated differently, turned to an outcast, and even brutalized. Asylums and “special” hospitals were made to discover what caused mental illnesses and try to remove it. Asylums and mental hospitals took on a bad name. People who were in those institutions were thought to be “crazy.” There were names given to the institution such as the “loony bin” and “madhouse” that has caused a negative connotation for people who were institutionalized.
Effects of Stigma
Many people don’t want to be labeled as “crazy”, “dangerous”, “unstable”, or any other stigmas that are associated with mental illness. They will avoid seeking help or treatment to help with their condition. Social stigma is others showing prejudice attitudes towards people with mental health problems due to their mental illness label. Self-stigma is when the person suffering from a mental illness feel shame for their condition due to the fear of others discriminating against them.
The lack of understanding from family and friends can create a worse environment for a person who is dealing with a mental illness. It can make them feel uncomfortable and unwanted in social situations. They may avoid going around their friends and loved ones. They may fear that they will be bullied, submitted to physical violence, or harassment from others. Though there are many new treatments allowing individuals with mental health problems to lead regular lives, the stigma associated with it could be preventing them to seek treatment and find help.
If you are suffering from a mental illness or know of someone who is suffering, help them seek medical advice and treatment. Instead of giving into the stigma that society places on people rise above, become educated, and help educate others.