What is the Mental Illness stigma?
Mental illness stigma is a term used to describe negative attitudes and beliefs about those with a mental illness. Nearly one in five Americans live with a mental illness, and nearly half of Americans are likely to suffer a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness is not something to be embarrassed about. But many suffering from mental illness face stigma due to misperceptions about mental illness in society. The stigma can then lead to discrimination, such as avoiding those with mental illness or treating them negatively due to their diagnosis. In many cases, those who have mental illness may also have self-defeating views.
Many people don’t understand mental illnesses and believe in outdated notions about those who have mental illnesses. This can cause people to hold incorrect and stigmatizing beliefs, such as thinking that people with mental illnesses are:
- Acting out for attention
These beliefs could lead to discrimination and may cause harm; for example:
- Uncertainty among family and friends
- Work opportunities are reduced
- Harassment and violence
- Life quality is reduced
- Discrimination in personal relationships
Stigma can be so pervasive that it even affects how people with mental illness perceive themselves. Self-stigma can cause those with a mental health diagnosis to apply negative stigma and stereotypes about their conditions to themselves.
How to reduce the Mental Illness Stigma?
The most powerful instrument we can use to lessen the stigma around mental illness is education. Here are a few easy actions to combat the stigma associated with mental illness within your community.
Your illness is not your identity.
You are more than your mental illness. Especially when you are first diagnosed, it can be overwhelming. Many people prefer person-first language, for this reason, choosing to describe themselves as “someone with bipolar disorder” or “someone with schizophrenia” rather than saying, “I’m bipolar” or “I’m schizophrenic.”
At the same time, try not to use mental health terms flippantly to describe yourself or others. While many people say things like “he’s an OCD” or “she’s bipolar,” it can cause stigma by conflating personality traits and behaviors with severe mental health conditions.
Join an online support group
Support groups cannot just aid you with the difficulties of your mental illness. They also help create an amazing bond of friendship and reduce stigma. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers incredible programs and online groups for those with mental illnesses, their families, and the general public.
Speak out against stigma
One of the best ways to reduce the stigma associated with mental health is to talk openly and honestly about the issue. While most of us suffer from mental illness at some point in our lives, many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about it. It can be affirming and rewarding to talk about your experiences with your friends and family if you are in treatment.
Even if you are not in treatment, you can always speak out when you hear those around you using stigmatized language or poorly treating those with mental illnesses.
Be a role model
Even if you have a mental illness, you might still hold negative beliefs about those with mental illness due to internalized stigma. That’s why it’s essential to model the language and behavior that you would like to see others use.
Like any other health condition, mental illnesses are not your fault and can be treated. You can contact Boston Neurobehavioral Associates. Here at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates, we have a mission to spread awareness about the stigma of mental health by offering comprehensive psychiatric and psychological treatment for many mental health conditions. Whether you have been diagnosed with OCD, depression, anxiety, or any other mental condition, we can help you.
If you’ve been struggling with your mental health, don’t suffer from shame and stigma any longer. Contact the exceptional team at Boston Neurobehavioral Associates that is now offering services in Rhode Island. You can book an appointment by visiting www.bostonneurobehavioral.com or calling us.