Mental Health and Stigma Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  900 Words
Date:  2022-06-22

There is a whole spectrum of mental disorders with each presenting with varied symptoms. Diagnosis of a mental disorder requires the attention of a psychiatrist with the appropriate experience and expertise to understand the symptoms and define a disease. However, many people presenting with symptoms indicative of mental disorders shy away from visiting a psychiatrist. In the same manner, relatives of a patient with psychiatrical challenges refrain from taking their kin to a mental hospital for evaluation. In other words, there is a remarkable reluctance to visiting a healthcare facility for mental problems as compared to seeing a doctor for a physical challenge. This difference is attributable to the social stigma that surrounds mental illness. Hitherto, the society has maintained a differential likeness to people with a sound mind and consistent contribution to its wellbeing as compared to those that would be considered as liabilities. To stigmatize family members, relatives, acquaintances, and friends with mental challenges is retrogressive in the current age where equality of all human beings is a calling from all spheres of life.

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As compared to the physical illness, mental sickness is more debilitating. A disease like a sore throat does not affect a person's interaction with their surrounding as depression would. Therefore, people suffering from mental disorders find it difficult to integrate into the society especially when nobody understands them. More often than not, patients with mental problems require constant support from their relatives than those with physical illnesses. Autistic children, for example, will require the support of an adult in doing things that would be considered simple for normal children. The perceived burden associated with mental illnesses prevents patients from seeking a diagnosis, subjecting them to the unexplained turmoil that sticks to their heart for as long time as the disease lasts.

The stigma against mental illness is multi-dimensional. For example, a person may express self-stigma due to an underlying mental problem that prevents them from establishing positive relations with their social circles. A teenager who experiences bouts of epileptic fits, for instance, would avoid being in the company of his age mates due to the fear of getting embarrassed along the way. In a similar manner, a child with an autistic disease would avoid sharing a playground with other children due to his special social challenges. In a study carried out by Corrigan et al., there are four reasons why people with mental illnesses suffer from self-stigma. The interviewed participants cited reasons of awareness to stereotypes associated with them by the society, their agreement with the labels, their understanding of harm associated with mentally-sick patients, and their belief that they can potentially cause harm to others (Corrigan et al. 150). Indeed, the society has set negative stereotypes against mentally ill people. The fear to freely mingle with other people stems from the stigma created at the community level. Of all the mentally ill participants enrolled in this study, very few expressed the belief that they are dangerous to the society. In a nutshell, self-stigma arises from the seclusion of the greater community.

There are several intervention procedures that would diminish stigma against mentally-ill patients. Most importantly, there is the creation of awareness about mental illnesses in the community. People need to understand that mental illness is a wide spectrum that has very many grey areas. In fact, all the people are mentally ill, what differentiates them is the severity of their symptoms. Making the community understand that depression is a mental illness just like epilepsy is would foster inclusiveness and tolerance in the society. All people should understand what it means when a friend or a relative exhibits behaviors that deviate from "normal" (Cicarelli and White 542). This information will enhance prompt seeking of medical attention, early diagnosis, and the subsequent initiation of psychotherapy. When more people are treated for mental disorders, there will be few cases of social lawlessness associated with mentally-sick patients. Cases of depression-related suicide, psychosis-related homicides, and mass murders would reduce (Sletta 13). As a result, the perceived danger emanating from mental illness will decline and the society would show tolerance to the mentally-ill patients. Since research has already developed a connection between social stereotypes and self-stigma, patients living in such a society will develop a sense of worthiness and feel free to integrate into the society where they live.


As a conclusion, decreasing stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of mental health advocates in the social and political spheres. There is evidence to show that health-seeking behavior for patients with suspected mental illness is remarkably lower than their counterparts with physical diseases. The perceived paradigm is attributable to stigma that the modern society has against mental illness. The stereotypes attached to the mentally challenged people diminish their confidence and instigates self-stigma. In a move to build stronger societies, addressing the causes of stigma like the lack of awareness will go a long way in entrenching tolerance among the mentally-ill patients and their immediate communities. Additionally, it would create a sense of belonging and worthiness in the affected people, having in mind that every person is a candidate for mental challenges, since the line between mental health and sickness is blurry.

Works Cited

Ciccarelli, Saundra K., and J. Noland White. Psychology: DSM 5. Pearson, 2014.Corrigan, Patrick W., et al. "Diminishing the self-stigma of mental illness by coming out proud." Psychiatry Research229.1-2 (2015): 148-154.

Sletta, Michael T. Mental Illness and Violence. Diss. 2015.

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