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How do stigma and discrimination affect people with mental health problems

Stigma refers to someone being discredited or reduced from being an individual to being a stereotype, or labeled as a collection or diagnosis of symptoms. 'psychotic').

Stigma can be defined as a mark, stain, or blemish.

People with mental illnesses may feel stigmatized. They may be treated in a negative manner, made to feel shameful or worthless, and viewed as less than others. Mental illness can be made worse by stigma and discrimination.

Mental Health Stigma
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What are some examples of stigmatization for mental illness?

It is a stigma when someone suffering from a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, is called "dangerous", "crazy" or "incompetent" rather than "unwell". It is also stigmatizing to be called weak or mocked for seeking treatment for mental illness.

Stigma often involves inaccurate stereotypes. Some people with mental illness are viewed as more violent than others. An individual with anxiety might be called cowardly, rather than ill. People suffering from depression might be advised to "snap out" of their problems. People with schizophrenia may be incorrectly called a "split personality". All of these are examples of stigmatizing people suffering from mental illness.

Why does stigma exist?

Stigma is caused by a lack of understanding about mental illness (ignorance, misinformation) and because of some people's negative attitudes and beliefs towards it (prejudice). Discrimination can result against those with mental illness.

Some mental health professionals even have negative views about the people they serve.

Media can also help reinforce a stigma through:

  • Stereotypes of people suffering from a mental illness are inaccurate

  • Sensationalizing situations by making unfounded references to mental illness

  • Use of demeaning or hostile language

If a portion of the media associates mental illness and violence, it promotes the myth, that all people with mental illnesses are dangerous. Research shows that people with mental illnesses are more likely than others to become victims or perpetrators of violence.

What does stigma mean for people living with mental illness?

Persons who are stigmatized may be treated differently or excluded from many things that the rest of society takes as a given, which can lead to them being marginalized.

They might be labeled due to their illness and thus become more susceptible to discrimination and prejudice. It can be difficult to deal with discrimination and prejudice. This can lead to mental illness. People often say that dealing with these issues is more difficult than the actual mental illness. Mental illness patients may also be susceptible to the prejudices of others. This can lead to a decrease in self-esteem. Sometimes they feel embarrassed or ashamed. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed and decide not to seek treatment.

People with mental illnesses can be stigmatized and discriminated against. They may be bullied or excluded from social networks. Many cultures are skeptical about mental health and it can make it more difficult to seek help. Mental Health Australia offers support and resources for people and caregivers from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds through the Embrace Project.

How to deal with the stigma

Here are some strategies to combat stigma

  • Do not avoid seeking treatment

  • Do not let fear of being labeled or discriminated against you stop you from seeking treatment and help.

  • Do not believe you are the cause of your illness

  • A broken ankle isn't a broken leg. They are more than the illness. You are also broken.

If you have bipolar disorder then say "I have bipolar disorder" instead of "I'm bipolar". It will be easier for others to see you as a person and not a living illness if you first convince yourself of that.

Do not take it personally

People who aren't familiar with mental illness or don't have any experience of it most often discriminate. It is their problem, not yours.

Make use of facts

It is pretty common to have a mental illness. This is not considered a weakness. It is a way to learn useful facts and figures and share them with others.

Protect against negative stereotypes, misinformation

If you are misled or receive inaccurate information, please inform us. Report any instances of stigmatization in the media to SANE Stigma Watch.

If you wish, tell your story

Mental illness is often hidden and therefore people are more likely to think that it should be ashamed of. Positive change can be made by people speaking up. You have the option to choose how much information you share about yourself. It helps to reduce stigma when people come to terms with someone suffering from mental illness.

Join a support group

It may be beneficial to join a support group for mental health organizations. It is helpful to meet other people in similar situations. Support groups often have resources that can help educate family members about mental illness.

Reducing stigma

Everybody can reduce the stigma around mental illness. You can dispel negative stereotypes in conversation and in media by actively educating people about inaccurate stereotyping.

Pay attention to the words you use to describe yourself and others. Avoid insensitive or hurtful words and avoid terms that define someone by their condition. When you hear someone make unprofessional comments about mental illness, speak up. Respect and acceptance of people with mental illness must be shown to all.

People with mental illness have the same rights as everyone else. If you witness discrimination or bullying, challenge it. Discrimination against someone with a mental illness is illegal.

Support and resources

Help is available for those who suffer from stigmatization or are close to someone suffering.

  • Mental health professionals such as counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors are all available.

  • Local community health centers

  • Local community mental health centers

To resolve the stigma, talk to the person/organization that discriminated against you. This is a quick and simple way to end discrimination.

You can file a formal complaint if an informal conversation fails to resolve the matter. If possible, you should make it in writing. Give a detailed explanation of the problem and what you would like to see happen in the future. The complaint should be thoroughly investigated and you informed about the outcome.

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