People suffering from mental illnesses are often faced with a bigger problem — the society’s stigma hovering over all types of mental ailments. This stigma can sometimes be more painful than the actual condition itself and it is high time we address this stigma, take some steps to try and overcome it and accept mental illnesses as a legitimate health problem.
Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illnesses
What is the stigma surrounding mental illnesses? Regardless of the society they belong too, people find it difficult to understand the seriousness of mental illnesses. And because of this, many suffering from a mental illness often feel ostracized from society for no fault of theirs.
In the U.S., one in five adults suffers from some form of mental illness, but many don’t come forward because they fear the society’s reaction to their possible diagnosis. Research shows that even though many of these individuals could recover when given the correct form of treatment or therapy, only about half of them actually get diagnosed or treated.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the stigma doesn’t stop with ridicule or nasty comments either, many even get blamed for their condition and are told that they should learn to handle their emotions better. This often leads to a feeling of shame and forces many to avoid coming forward and talking about their problems.
This is the stigma that needs to be addressed because not only does it keep individuals from getting the required treatment, it also leads to undesired consequences like suicides.
How do we overcome the stigma?
A stigma toward any situation can be overcome only with awareness, so the first step to overcoming the stigma would be to educate yourself and overcome any stigma you may carry about your own condition or that of someone you know.
Once you are stigma-free, take it upon yourself to educate others around you. Start with your immediate family, expand to friends, colleagues, etc. and help them understand that a mental ailment is just as crucial as a physical one.
Social media is a big platform these days and you could put it to good use by expressing your views openly and bravely, not worrying about backlash. Even if only one person benefits from your outpour, consider it a victory and move on with spreading awareness on different media.
It would also help to be compassionate to someone dealing with a mental condition. These individuals often feel isolated, because of their condition, and may feel better even with a quick hug or a few soothing words.
What we, as a society, need to understand is that a person suffering from a mental ailment has enough on their plate and should not be dealing with negativity and ridicule because of their condition. And that is why NAMI has adopted #curestigma as the theme for their 2018 mental illness awareness campaign.
The more awareness we spread about mental illnesses, the better the prospects are for people to get the required help and possibly get cured.
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NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2017/9-Ways-to-Fight-Mental-Health-Stigma